SANDY, Utah – Real Salt Lake's coach and his players are all disappointed that the US men's national team fell to Belgium on Tuesday. And they're all a bit puzzled that RSL captain Kyle Beckerman wasn't on the field.
“I was very surprised,” defender Nat Borchers told reporters. “I thought he had done enough to get in there and deserve a start, but nobody really gets to make those decisions aside from [USMNT head coach] Jurgen [Klinsmann].”
Beckerman started and played every minute of the Americans' three group-stage games, generally receiving high marks from analysts and praise from Klinsmann. But, to be clear, nobody at RSL was criticizing the coach.
“There's difficult decisions coaches have to make,” RSL midfielder Ned Grabavoy told reporters. “I'm sure he made a decision thinking, for whatever reason, it was best for the team. He has to do what he thinks. I'm not in the group, so I can't say if it's a right or wrong decision.”
RSL head coach Jeff Cassar told reporters he was “trying to think of” a reason why Beckerman was on the bench.
“Obviously, we're not in the trenches, in the meetings that they're having,” he said. “But that was a weird one. I think he could've helped them.”
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The US confirmed that Beckerman's omission from the lineup was a coach's decision, leading to the notion that it had a lot to do with Belgium (Klinsmann specifically cited the matchup with 6-foot-4 Marouane Fellaini), and the US struggled not only to defend but to maintain possession in their 2-1 overtime loss.
“He had played so well the first few games,” RSL defender Chris Wingert told reporters, “We really could've used him in there to help us with the possession.”
The statement was not meant as direct criticism of the player who replaced Beckerman on Tuesday.
“I think Geoff Cameron's a great player,” Wingert said. “Nothing to do with that. I was just surprised that Kyle wasn't in there. … I think pretty much everybody was.”