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Kyle Beckerman proving the doubters wrong
by Alec Mishra, July 28th, 2013 1:52AM

TAGS:  gold cup, men's national team


[USA MEN] Few of Jurgen Klinsmann's personnel decisions prompt as much debate among fans as the coach's faith in defensive midfielder  Kyle Beckerman, for whom tomorrow's Gold Cup final against Panama may prove to be his greatest test in the U.S. jersey.

He starred on the USA's 1999 Under-17 World Cup fourth-place team alongside Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley, but Beckerman turned out to be a later bloomer with the full national team.

He didn’t make his first appearance until 2007, in a January friendly against Denmark. Bob Bradley selected Beckerman for the 2009 Gold Cup, where Beckerman started every game in the runner-up finish.

Beckerman then played sparingly under Bradley’s tenure, but has enjoyed a rebirth for the national team under Klinsmann. Since Klinsmann took over in 2011, Beckerman played 18 times for the USA. In 2013, the 31-year-old has made seven appearances, including four starts at the Gold Cup so far.

Aside from his trademark dreadlocks, Beckerman remained under the radar for much of his MLS career. At the age of 18, he signed with the Miami Fusion where he played 124 minutes his first two MLS seasons. After the Fusion folded, Beckerman signed with the Colorado Rapids in 2002 and by his second season with the club had locked down a starting spot in Colorado’s midfield.

Midway through the 2007 season, the Rapids traded Beckerman to Real Salt Lake where his career took off. He became RSL’s captain in 2008, lifted the 2009 MLS Cup, and this summer’s MLS All-Star Game will be Beckerman’s fifth consecutive appearance.

Klinsmann’s confidence in the wild-haired veteran may be questioned by some American fans, but Beckerman’s Gold Cup performances in the knockout round have been beyond reproach. (He also earned the top grade average among midfielders in Soccer America’s Gold Cup Report Cards.) The game he didn’t see action in, a 1-0 win in the final group game against Costa Rica, was the one in which the U.S. midfield looked the least cohesive. When he returned to the lineup the Americans cruised to 5-1 and 3-1 wins over El Salvador and Honduras in the quarterfinals and semis.

Eddie Johnson called Beckerman “the Peyton Manning of soccer” for his experience and savvy.

“He keeps us connected as far as keeping the ball, keeping us organized and that winning mentality that he's had,” said Johnson. “He's been a consistent player throughout his career and I'm very fortunate to play alongside him.”

A strong performance in Sunday's Gold Cup final should convince those who doubt the value of having Beckerman in the U.S. midfield.

  1. Kent James
    commented on: July 28, 2013 at 10:15 a.m.
    I was one of the doubters. I was always impressed with his defense, but felt he brought nothing offensively. But he's won me over. He rarely loses the ball, and has become adept at both quick short passes, switching the field, and the occasional long ball. He's really come into his own.

  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: July 28, 2013 at 12:08 p.m.
    IMNO, Beckerman has played solid, yet against higher level squads he has been inconsistent and labors to deliver. As for E.J. calling Beckerman, “the Peyton Manning of soccer” he's either delusional or losing his mind. Perhaps E.J. is comparing Beckerman to his level, which is a minefield of inconsistency.

    commented on: July 29, 2013 at 10:14 a.m.
    He definitely had a good Gold cup. BUT...He is not offensive minded. He continually turns away from Goal when in the opponents half, even when time and space allows. Against high pressure teams, he doesn't have the confidence to push ahead. He is very conservative with his passes, and lacks the vision needed. His defensive skills are great. But as a holding midfielder on this team in my opinion he is about number 10 on the depth chart.

  1. Chris Sapien
    commented on: July 29, 2013 at 2:53 p.m.
    I was basically just happy for him this GC.....although, we/he know/s his physical limitations both against sides with more pace, size and/or ball pressure. He probably will never make the full gallops forward like a Jones might choose to do, nor tackle as confident as a Bradley, that is why he sprays the ball around, and fouls early against counters. Still, he has significantly raised his stock in '13.

  1. Shane Watkins
    commented on: July 29, 2013 at 11:21 p.m.
    I have always felt Beckerman is great at keeping possession. Although I do agree with the previous comment that he plays a bit overly conservative and doesn't always face the opposition and attack spaces, but he hardly ever loses the ball! What's better than that? We will have a hard time losing if we consistently have the ball. Jones has pace, but he is reckless, and is a liability. He needs to be fast to recover all the balls he loses. I would love to see a Bradley and Beckerman midfield and see what happens. Turn Bradley loose and let Beckerman hold it down behind him. He is always an option for teammates in trouble by finding creases and angles to sit in. Let's see if he will be as good outside of CONCACAF!!!He is way higher than 10th in the depth chart. Jones is probably closer to 10th. I would put all of the guys that played in the middle this gold cup in front of Jones, plus Bradley, Edu, Cameron in front of Jones. For his adventures forward and aggressive penetrating balls, he will single handedly cost us at least one game in the world cup if he starts, by losing balls and tackling from behind or studs up. I'd say Beckerman has done enough to get a start in the next qualifier!!!

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