You may have seen Real Salt Lake midfielder Kyle Beckerman seated on the bench during the U.S. 2-0 win over Azerbaijan on Tuesday, May 27. But, it’s doubtful that Beckerman will remain on the bench for either the duration of the three-game Send-Off Series this week and next--or for World Cup 2014 in Brazil.
He is as much an integral part to the US soccer team success in Brazil as any of the other 22 players US head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has selected--perhaps even more so because of his ability to man the holding midfield position in the diamond 4-4-2 formation, a system the Americans have only recently adopted leading up to World Cup 2014.
Beckerman knows the holding midfield position and the demands placed on it all too well, having played it for years at Real Salt Lake. It’s something that has translated to success with the US soccer team as well.
You need look no further than the 2-2 draw against Mexico as proof positive that Beckerman can play at a world-class level. In his short but remarkable senior national team career he has played a pivotal role for US head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, providing the steadiness and leadership necessary for the Americans to have any chance in Brazil. Here are five reasons that Beckerman figures into U.S. World Cup plans.
Beckerman’s ability to sit in that diamond 4-4-2 allows Bradley the freedom to move around, and most importantly, attack. As you’ve seen from the past two U.S. matches--a 2-2 draw against Mexico and a 2-0 win over Azerbaijan--you not only have to stick in and play defense, you also have to be fluid within the attack and play balls forward. Beckerman can do both.
Beckerman is Real Salt Lake’s team captain and commands respect not just by how he plays on the field, but what he does off of it. The first thing you think when you see Beckerman is he’s Bob Marley’s long lost brother--but that’s not what you get after you talk to him. The same applies to the U.S. national team. He’s well liked in the squad and a team leader.
Make no mistake about it, Beckerman is a fiery team leader--much like his head coach Jurgen Klinsmann was when he played for Germany and Bayern Munich. He may be jovial and fun-loving but when it comes to the game itself, you get a different Beckerman. The Americans need someone like Beckerman, the kind of player who will never quit when the going gets tough.
This is an aspect of Beckerman that is severely overlooked--but probably not by Klinsmann, who has lifted many trophies, including soccer’s biggest prize, a World Cup trophy. He knows what Beckerman is all about; he has scouted Beckerman extensively for years and finally gave him his senior national team opportunity just a few years ago.
Another stat largely overlooked is Beckerman’s experience. Since Klinsmann has tapped Beckerman to play what might be the most critical position on the U.S. national team, the dreadlocked wonder has been capped 35 times--twice alone this year. As Klinsmann often states, it’s not about what you did yesterday--it’s what you do today. And Beckerman has done enough to not only stick on the 23-man roster, he's become an integral part of the Americans’ run to World Cup 2014.