LEHI, Utah — Conventional wisdom says the product on display out on the field is the real indicator of the health of a professional soccer team. But often it’s what goes on behind the scenes, in the locker room and on the training pitch that help to give a team the strength to persevere through difficult times.
The latter is what’s crucial for Real Salt Lake right now, and captain Kyle Beckerman is taking the responsibility of galvanizing the team after a 1-1 draw against the Philadelphia Union last Saturday.
“The main thing that I’ve been trying to get on with the rest of the guys is to just stick together and keep trying to believe that we’re going to be in this game,” Beckerman said. “We went down a goal, and came into halftime and just thought we’re only down a goal. Come on. We only need one chance and we can tie this game up.”
But that wasn’t a mentality that was born right there and in that moment. It’s more of an attitude that Beckerman and the coaching staff have worked hard to get the team to buy into since they’ve hit a rough patch over the last couple of months.
"I’ve actually heard Kyle saying that. It’s the exact right thing,” head coach Jason Kreis said. “There’s a lot of ways to look at it negatively, but there’s also a lot of ways to look at it positively. So I’m glad to hear that Kyle is reiterating that. I’m trying to do the same.”
Beckerman said he’s been happy thus far with the response from RSL, who over the last few months saw their CONCACAF Champions League dreams crushed in the final against Monterrey, their star playmaker Javier Morales suffer a frightening ankle injury and their MLS-record unbeaten streak at home end in a rainstorm against the Seattle Sounders.
“We’ve been doing good so far,” Beckerman said of keeping a positive view on things. “We’ve had some frustrating times. We’ve lost some games. We’re giving up goals that we don’t usually. I think the guys’ spirits have been good, and that draw that we had on Saturday was all due to attitude.
“It’s all about just not getting frustrated and keeping our heads into it,” he continued, “and sticking together through this tough time.”
Beckerman believes that the team is finding its way back to the form that they once enjoyed. He admits, however, that rebuilding what was once there takes a frustratingly long time, whereas losing it can happen seemingly in a blink of an eye.
“It’s real easy,” he said of a team losing its form. “It can go by like that — a guy goes to Europe, a guy gets injured, the form dips, we lose a big game — all these things, just…whew.”
“It will make us a stronger team when we get out of this," he added. "And I’m glad if we’re going to have to go through this, we go through it at this time of the season. And then when we come out of it, it will be guns blazing.”