KINGSTON, Jamaica – It wasn’t so long ago that there was a common knock on Kyle Beckerman: He was a good MLS role player, but didn’t quite have what it took to reach the next level, that little extra bit of size, speed or attacking ability that would have made him a truly dominant player.
Jurgen Klinsmann saw things differently, though. A year into the German-American’s tenure with the US national team, the Real Salt Lake midfielder has risen from a peripheral place in the selection pool to a central cog in the squad.
It’s a sign of the boss’ faith in the RSL man that he looks likely to be handed a crucial place at the base of the USMNT midfield in Friday's World Cup qualifier against Jamaica (8 pm ET, beIN Sport, live chat on MLSsoccer.com).
“Yeah, it seems like that,” Beckerman said on Thursday evening when asked whether he feels he’s earned Klinsmann’s trust. “It’s always a good feeling when a coach gives you chances and seems to have trust in you. So I’m just going to continue what I’ve been doing, working hard, put my head down and try and help the team any way I can.”
Beckerman earned a number of caps under Bob Bradley, including a substitute’s appearance in a World Cup qualifier back in 2009 against El Salvador. But he credits his recent progress at the international level to the opportunities handed to him by Bradley’s successor.
“Different coach,” he said. “I think when you get to this level, everybody’s good. So then it becomes a preference of a coach. And it just seems that I’m more preferred than I was with the last coach. So that’s helping me out – I’ve just got to take full advantage of it, really. But there’s just been a lot of fun challenges and really neat experiences I’ve gotten over the past year. I think the more you play, the more confidence you get.”
Beckerman explained that he’s handed a more conservative assignment with the national team than the one he enjoys with RSL. It’s one he is eager to bear, though, and he expects to be kept busy Friday night by an athletic Reggae Boyz attack raring to fire up their home fans.
“It’s a bit of an adjustment. Here it’s a bit more disciplined, I guess,” he said. “It’s a different style, different formation. Here, it’s more of a defensive role, where in Salt Lake it’s more of a balance, defense-offense. So that’s fine – whatever role it is, I’m willing to take it.
“As a team, [Jamaica] have a lot of speed, they’re physical, they get stuck in,” noted Beckerman. “They’re going to be playing with this crowd that I’m sure is going to have a lot of energy, and it sounds like they have a lot of confidence and they’re really up for this game.”