SANDY, Utah — Real Salt Lake will venture into Red Bull Arena on Wednesday without their most consistent performer, team captain Kyle Beckerman.
Beckerman’s yellow card in the 69th minute of Saturday’s 1-0 win over Sporting Kansas City seemed innocuous at the time as the sometimes-fiery midfielder gave referee Ricardo Salazar an earful after being whistled for a foul. However, the caution put Beckerman over the limit for the season and earned him a suspension for the midweek contest (8 pm ET; watch LIVE online).
“Here we go again,” head coach Jason Kreis said immediately after Saturday’s game. “[We’ll] try to figure out who to shift into that position. It will be a difficult choice, no doubt.”
Though one could argue Beckerman needed a break — he's played in all 26 RSL matches this season in addition to a couple of national team appearances and an early-season Champions League run — his absence leaves a big void in front of the back four, and Kreis will have a challenge trying to fill it.
"We lean on him," Kreis said. "He’s our captain, but we also recognize that at some point we’re going to need to get him rest."
Among the candidates to replace Beckerman are Will Johnson, Ned Grabavoy, Jean Alexandre and the newly acquired Yordany Álvarez.
“[Alexandre] is a guy who, for several years now, we’ve been working on him to be in that position," Kreis said, "and now this year — because of everything else that’s happened — now we’re saying, 'OK, maybe he’s a little bit of a forward."
Johnson and Grabavoy are more likely to see action in the wide positions, though both of them have deputized at the holding spot in the past. Grabavoy was once the primary backup to Beckerman but has seen less time there recently as he’s settled into the right midfielder position. He’s also coming off an injury and has not yet shown that he’s 90-minutes fit, though he’s likely close to it.
Newcomer Álvarez, 26, was signed just last Thursday, and though his introduction into the starting lineup would be somewhat surprising, it's a role the Cuban — on loan from third-division USL Pro champions Orlando City — can play.
“Obviously we have a suspension Wednesday night we’re dealing with, and so Yordany will be considered to go straight into the starting lineup for Wednesday,” Kreis said.
However, Kreis admits that situation would be less than ideal.
"I would love to really not even be considering him yet," he said. "I would love to say that we need at least another couple of weeks before we’re considering him, but we’ve been placed in a difficult scenario as we have on multiple other things multiple times this season. Desperate times sometimes call for desperate measures.”