One of the most distinguished careers in MLS history has come to an end, as longtime Real Salt Lake and US men's national team stalwart Kyle Beckerman announced his retirement on his official Twitter account on Monday.
A nine-time All-Star and 2009 MLS Cup winner, Beckerman, 38, became one of the best defensive midfielders in league history and is the league’s all-time leader in regular-season games played (498), games started (461) and minutes played (41,164) among field players. Earlier this month, he was named as one of MLS's 25 Greatest.
"Kyle Beckerman helped build the foundation for Major League Soccer to become the league it is today," MLS said in a league statement. "He was instrumental in Real Salt Lake becoming a championship team, and he was equally important in establishing the club as a central part of the Utah community. One of The 25 Greatest players in MLS history, Kyle was a force on the field for 21 seasons in MLS and with the U.S. National Team.
"While we will all have countless memories of Kyle playing in MLS, his commitment to positively influencing the community where he lived and played the sport he loved is what stands out with Kyle Beckerman. Major League Soccer congratulates Kyle on an incredible career and looks forward to having Kyle remain in the soccer family."
MLS Commissioner Don Garber also paid tribute on social media.
Kyle Beckerman’s contributions to our League and Real Salt Lake have been legendary. On the field he’s one of the League’s 25 best. And his impact off the field has been enormous.— Don Garber (@thesoccerdon) December 21, 2020
Tight lines, Kyle! Best to you and your family in your post-playing career... pic.twitter.com/mA9MTjWxRM
After starting his professional career with the Miami Fusion in 2000, he moved to the Colorado Rapids, where he made 145 appearances from 2002-2007.
An icon.— Real Salt Lake (@realsaltlake) December 21, 2020
The embodiment of everything #RSL stands for & aspires to be every day.
You paved the path & laid the foundation for our club.
Your legacy will live on forever.
Thank you, Captain. For everything. pic.twitter.com/VgIFgUe1sN
It was at Real Salt Lake where Beckerman really wrote his legend after arriving via trade in July 2007, becoming a mainstay in the club's midfield for a remarkable 350 appearances. Known as one of the league's top tempo-setters who was never afraid to go into a hard tackle, Beckerman parlayed his standout play with Real Salt Lake into a recurring role for the USMNT, where he accumulated 58 senior caps from 2007-2016, winning the 2013 Concacaf Gold Cup and making the 23-man roster and starting three matches at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
"What a ride it's been," Beckerman wrote. "My playing days have come to an end, but I step away with a full heart and a lifetime of memories. I've had a career the younger me never could have imagined."
Thank you pic.twitter.com/QSSJIJE4k8— Kyle Beckerman (@KyleBeckerman) December 21, 2020
Real Salt Lake general manager Elliot Fall described the news as an end of an era.
“There aren’t words to describe the impact Kyle has had on our club, MLS, and this community," Fall said in a team release. "When you think of Real Salt Lake, you think of Kyle Beckerman. He is a legend. There will never be another like him. This is the end of an era, but I’m sure the next chapter from Kyle will be special as well. That’s the kind of person he is.”
Added 12-year RSL defender and Assistant General Manager Tony Beltran: “Kyle Beckerman is an American hero – one of his Club, Utah, US Soccer and our country itself. He embodies a bygone era in MLS, one where vigor and passion are at the forefront of a primal need to vie for conquest. We will never see his like again.”
RSL head coach Freddy Juarez paid a similar tribute.
"As a coach, I’ve enjoyed every minute of watching him play, train and the leadership he displayed with the team," he said. "I am grateful for the example he set for our young players of hard work and determination. As a fan, I am grateful to Kyle for giving his heart to the sport and for being a remarkable human being off the pitch.”