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Young RSL Defender Beltran Gaining Experience, Confidence

Tony Beltran quickly became the fall guy following Real Salt Lake's season-opening loss at Seattle. The second-year player seemed overwhelmed by the moment of playing in front of over 30,000 fans, struggling in the opening half of a 2-0 loss in which a defensive miscue contributed to the first goal.

But RSL coach Jason Kreis was never worried about Beltran's mental toughness. "He's a player I knew from the beginning he could handle disappointment and setbacks and move forward," Kreis said. Battling for a place in the starting lineup, Beltran has overcome a disappointing opener to become a crucial piece of RSL's stingy defense. Real Salt Lake owns a 3-0-4 record when Beltran is in the starting lineup since the Seattle game, and lately the defender's performance seems to get stronger in each match.

As a turning point in his season, Beltran turned in a stellar performance against the Galaxy on May 6, when he helped mark Landon Donovan. "That was his first chance to be back in the lineup and he had a really strong game, and from there forward he's improved in every match," Kreis said. Fellow outside back Chris Wingert isn't surprised by Beltran's development. "I've kind of said from day one he's a really good player. Of course he's getting better, he's such a good athlete, and the more experience he gets in this environment day in and day out he's going to continue to thrive," Wingert said. Beltran is gaining more confidence with more time on the field. "Such a big part of soccer is just confidence and where you're at mentally," Beltran said. "When you're confidence is high, you're doing things you're comfortable doing and your success rate is higher." Beltran will look to continue to impress this Saturday when RSL host a hot Toronto FC team.

 

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