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Eastern Conference Championship

Real Salt Lake welcome back international contingent

SANDY, Utah – Having players called in for national team duty is both an honor and a hassle for Real Salt Lake. 

RSL coach Jason Kreis understands what it means to a player to be named to a national team – he earned 14 caps for the United States during his own playing days. And while he is a soccer fan who tries to keep up with what his players are doing during their stints away, he admits he follows it "pretty closely, but not as closely as I would like. I only get 24 hours in a day."

One thing he does keep close tabs on is how many minutes his players log, and if there are any injuries.

Álvario Saborío was tops in that category this time, as he was on the pitch for 120 minutes over two games as Costa Rica dropped a pair of decisions to Mexico. Will Johnson played 90 minutes in Canada's 1-0 win over Panama in Toronto last week, but that was all he could get, as he was suspended for the return match in Panama on Tuesday and returned to RSL earlier than the other three. Nick Rimando was the third goalkeeper for the US in their series against Jamaica and didn't see the field.

"It is still great to get called into camp, a real honor," said the RSL ‘keeper. "You go in there and get a chance to train with the best. The [US] goalkeeper coach [Chris Woods] is [Tim Howard’s] coach from Everton, so it is great to see how they do things in the [English Premier League] at the highest level of soccer. They work you hard and you can take away a lot to see how they approach the game and training."

Kyle Beckerman did feature though, playing 55 minutes in US national team’s 2-1 loss to Jamaica in Kingston last Friday. He also suffered one of those moments he would like to forget as the Reggae Boyz' first goal came on a free kick that deflected off the midfielder's leg and into the net as he stood in the Yanks’ wall.

"No way," said Beckerman of his first thoughts as he felt the ball deflect through his legs and turned to see it hit the back of the net. "It was just unfortunate. It was an unlucky thing, and that's part of soccer."

Even with that mishap, the RSL captain felt honored to be chosen and to start in that first of the two games.

"It's always cool to be a part of the experience," said Beckerman. "It also goes to show you that qualifying isn't easy. People may expect it, but anything can happen. I appreciate the chances I've had to join the team and play with that group of guys."