World Cup: Real Salt Lake's influential international trio see "no need to panic" as they depart for camps
SANDY, Utah — Real Salt Lake captain Kyle Beckerman is a happy man, but he'd be happier if he could be in two places at once.
Ecstatic to be among the 30 players competing for a spot on the US roster for the World Cup, Beckerman nevertheless wishes he could continue playing with his unbeaten club team.
“Of course, this experience is great,” Beckerman told reporters. “Everybody in [the RSL locker room] wants me to go. But, on the other hand, part of me wants to be here. I want to be two people right now. It's kind of a bummer.”
Beckerman is one of three Salt Lake starters who will miss several games because of the World Cup. The midfielder is joined by goalkeeper Nick Rimando at the US camp; forward Álvaro Saborío has been called up by Costa Rica. All three will miss the latest installment of the Rocky Mountain Cup, as Colorado comes to town on Saturday night (9:30 pm ET, MLS Stream of the Week).
Real Salt Lake found themselves in the same situation last year, when Beckerman, Rimando and defender Tony Beltran were all away with the US national team on its run to the Gold Cup championship and Saborío was playing for Costa Rica. Rimando insists RSL are deep enough to overcome the loss of three starters.
“This locker room's really deep,” he told reporters, adding that he, Beckerman and Saborío “don't make a team. It's a whole team effort. We've got some great players coming in and filling our roles. There should be no need to panic.”
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Looking back, however, things did not go all that well for RSL last year. Salt Lake headed into July on a four-game win streak and a six-game unbeaten streak (5-0-1), but while missing four players for the Gold Cup, RSL went 1-2-1, including a loss and a tie at home.
“Last year, we were going on a really good run when we were getting in form and felt unbeatable for a while,” Beckerman said. “Then a bunch of us left for a month.”
Even after the group returned, it took some time for RSL to regain their form, with Beckerman acknowledging that after the Gold Cup, the team had “to find that rhythm again.” In the four games after Beckerman, Rimando, Saborio and Beltran returned from the Gold Cup, RSL went 1-1-2.
One reason RSL expect this year to be different is that they have already had to deal with missing starters this season, largely because they have had more than their share of injuries. Only four players (Beckerman, Saborío, defender Nat Borchers and midfielder Ned Grabavoy) have started all 10 games. And eight players have missed anywhere from 1-10 games due to injury.
Even ironman Rimando, who is just one shutout away from tying the all-time MLS record, missed three games after — ironically — he injured his knee in a US friendly against Mexico. That has opened up opportunities for others to play consistent minutes and leaves Real Salt Lake's national-teamers confident that their club is in good hands.
“I trust everybody in there,” said Beckerman. “I don't see any reason why we can't keep picking up points and keep winning and be right where we are when I get back.”