SANDY, Utah — A short-handed Real Salt Lake were forced to debut two players in the second half against the Philadelphia Union – Blake Wagner and Cody Arnoux both saw their first action in RSL kits – but it was a familiar face who carried the squad to a 2-1 victory on Saturday night.
Kyle Beckerman was originally supposed to have played with the US national team on against Costa Rica on Friday night, but in a deal brokered with US Soccer, the midfielder was allowed to stay behind for RSL’s match vs. Philly. He will join up with the USMNT in Brussels for their friendly vs. Belgium.
Anyone watching RSL throughout this season has seen in Beckerman a player that continues to shoulder much of the important play for the club, and with RSL’s current injury crisis and recent struggles, Saturday was no exception.
“I think the main thing is that we’ve been going through a tough time,” said Beckerman, “and I feel like I need to put even more effort into it and be sharper to try to get out of that slump that we were in.”
Taking on that added responsibility is a role that the veteran midfielder is comfortable with.
“You just take on more responsibility with so many young guys being out there,” explained the RSL captain. “On the defensive side, I just want to try and lead by example. If they see me getting stuck in on the tackle and winning balls, then the rest of the guys are going to come on, just trying to put in the extra 10 percent to try to get us through the tough times.”
Against the Union, that extra 10 percent came in the form of a goal and an assist. In the 18th minute, Beckerman played a short corner with Paulo Jr., who then “gave it back and then I kind of crept in and let it fly, and luckily it went in.”
That lucky shot ended up being a wicked strike from the edge of the box that gave Real Salt Lake a 1-0 lead.
For Ned Grabavoy, that Beckerman scored – or that he was such a big factor for their win – was no surprise.
“I think Kyle is a player that from that deep position is going to score four or five goals for you,” he explained. “He’s a player that likes to play a good style of game. He’s a player that likes to get on the ball and be creative. He really is more of a playmaker from deep. When I say playmaker, I’m not saying he’s flashy or anything like that, but there is a skill and an art for playing that position.”
Eight minutes after his go-ahead goal, Beckerman curled a service from another corner kick and onto the head Chris Schuler, who rose to nod the ball into the net for the eventual winner.
“I’m pretty pleased, obviously, that [Beckerman has] been able to stay with us and contribute in such a meaningful fashion tonight,” head coach Jason Kreis told the media after the match. “The first goal was fantastic, and the assist on the second goal was really, really nice too.
“It was important that our captain was with us tonight and leading us.”