After sitting out the U.S. soccer team friendly match against Azerbaijan earlier this week, you figured it was probably just a matter of time before Real Salt Lake midfielder Kyle Beckerman found his way back onto the pitch for the Americans.
On Sunday, June 1 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, Beckerman did just that--and then some. With a U.S. backline under heavy pressure in its friendly against the No. 39 ranked team in the world from Turkey it was the Americans who needed to find answers fast, leading 1-0.
Enter Beckerman to begin the second half at his preferred holding midfielder role in place of Jermaine Jones, and the Americans started at least slowing down the Turks. Beckerman’s presence in that holding role limited the searching balls Turkish attackers sent into spaces in front of the American center backs. He also contributed to making the Americans more compact when defending and expanding the field of play when the U.S. went on the offensive.
With Turkey being limited by what it could do on offense thanks to Beckerman and second-half subs like DeAndre Yedlin and John Brooks providing the speed necessary in the back to thwart counterattacks, the U.S. were able to quickly turn what was a 1-0 American lead into 2-0 on a counter of its own just after the halftime break.
Good defensive work in the middle third by Beckerman and his teammates to win the ball back from Turkey led to some clever interplay from attacking midfielder Michael Bradley, who worked the ball across the diamond middle to Brad Davis who sent a perfect through ball into space for onrushing left defender Timmy Chandler.
On a dead run down his left flank, Chandler cut back and sent a searing cross that a backpedaling Turkish defender mishit in front of his own goal, leaving U.S. forward Clint Dempsey all alone to tap the ball into the net in the 52nd minute for a 2-0 U.S. lead. That lead would stand but for a Turkey penalty kick late on to give the Americans a 2-1 win in front of over 26,000 fans.
Beckerman put in a solid 49 minutes of work in Red Bull Arena, leaving the door completely open as to who will start in the Americans’ final game of its pre-World Cup 2014 schedule, a friendly later this week against Nigeria. The other RSL player in the squad, goalkeeper Nick Rimando, did not play on Sunday.