For Real Salt Lake players Nick Rimando, Kyle Beckerman and Tony Beltran, making appearances on the US soccer team roster versus rival Mexico on Wednesday, April 2 is one small step towards World Cup 2014 in Brazil.
Several of them, however, may have taken a giant leap Wednesday night in Phoenix towards making the team as the Americans started out fast taking a 2-0 lead into halftime -- but settled for a 2-2 draw as El Tri came roaring back in the second half.
One such player was Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando, whose stellar saves led the U.S. to a #DosACero lead -- or 2-0 -- in the first 45 minutes of play.
A Rafa Marquez header from a corner kick in the 48th minute and an Alan Pulido rebound off a shot that caromed off the post in the 67th leveled the match for Mexico.
Though neither second half goal was Rimando’s fault, he did remain perfect as a starter for the Americans, upping his record to 10-0-1 between the pipes, and he was grateful for the opportunity.
“Always an honor 2 wear the crest & represent #USA. Thanks 2 all the fans that showed up & tuned in tonight, the atmosphere was fantastic,” Rimando tweeted from his Twitter page.
As for Beckerman and Beltran, both players served themselves very well Wednesday. Beckerman started as the team’s holding midfielder in the U.S. new ‘diamond 4-4-2’ formation -- one with which RSL is quite familiar and it showed.
Beckerman was nearly flawless in his passing and execution in the first 45 minutes, giving attacking mid Michael Bradley of Toronto FC the opportunity to hunt for goals -- one which Bradley got in the 15th minute on a one-time blast to give the U.S. a 1-0 lead.
But the biggest play of the night belonged to Beltran, who was a last-minute replacement and surprise starter. He sprinted down the wing -- as he does with RSL -- with the attack in the 28th minute.
His cross into the penalty box curled onto Bradley’s foot, which was flicked on to Chris Wondolowski of the San Jose Earthquakes. Ever the goal-poacher, Wondo hammered the ball into the net for the Americans’ 2-0 lead -- giving himself a fighting chance to make a name for himself in Brazil.
RSL midfielder Luis Gil was also called in for the game against Mexico, but did not play.