SANDY, Utah — The first time Kyle Beckerman suited up against Mexico, he played a part in perhaps the lowest point for the US national team of the last three years.
When the Real Salt Lake captain got his latest chance this week, things worked out decidedly better.
Little more than three years after the Americans lost by a humbling 5-0 score line in the 2009 Gold Cup final, Beckerman played a vital 90 minutes and avenged any lingering demons from that day at Giants Stadium during the Americans’ historic 1-0 win over El Tri at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City on Wednesday night.
Beckerman even played a crucial role in setting up Michael Orozco Fiscal’s game-winning goal in the 80th minute, swinging the ball outside to winger Brek Shea before the FC Dallas attacker surged into the box to set the table for Orozco Fiscal’s heroics.
"I just got the ball and thought, 'Let's get this ball to Brek,’” Beckerman said. “’This is where he likes the ball. This is where he can do some damage.' I tried to get it to him as quick as possible so he would have some time and space, and he did what he does after that."
Beckerman said that although he instantly realized he’d set up what could prove to be a historic goal in the increasingly tense rivalry, he didn’t celebrate the moment, well aware there was plenty of time left before the final whistle.
"I looked around and our sideline was going crazy,” he said. “You look around and the players are all hugging each other. I wasn't going to run to the sideline, because it was just too far. I knew we had a lot more work to do. But it was just a joy to be a part of that goal and getting a chance to win it."
Beckerman was the only player on the US roster on Wednesday night who played in that fateful 2009 game in New Jersey. He also started and logged a full 90 minutes against Mexico at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia in August 2011, a 1-1 draw that served as the first game of Klinsmann’s tenure.
And he might play in a few more against El Tri as the 2014 World Cup looms, but for now, he’s savoring a unique moment in history.
"I have the newspaper clipping from down in Mexico and I'll save that," he said. "But I'm just really happy that I was a part of it. It is cool to have something that nobody else does. … I am really proud of it.
"That game will be in my memory forever, that's for sure.”