DRAPER — As Real Salt Lake midfielder Kyle Beckerman earned his first-ever start in a World Cup during the U.S. men’s national team match against Ghana in Natal, Brazil, fans of his team and country congregated in large watch parties thousands of miles away.
RSL head coach Jeff Cassar and nearly 100 U.S. supporters met at Oak Wood Fire Kitchen, 715 E. 12300 South, in Draper. The group included assistant coach Andy Williams, midfielder Luis Gil and forward Olmes Garcia, as well as staff, fans and reporters of Real Salt Lake.
Beckerman played 90 minutes against Ghana, the team that eliminated the United States in the past two World Cup cycles. And the defensive midfielder's presence was not lost on his coach.
“He was extremely solid,” Cassar said. “He really held down the fort, allowed Bradley to do what he wanted to do during the game and get forward, and he really solidified that midfield.”
"Especially when you look at that last play, where he toe-pokes the ball away from (Michael) Essien. That kind of play is Kyle. It's what he does."
Clint Dempsey scored the fastest World Cup goal by a U.S. player in national team history, slotting the opener home only 29 seconds into the match. But Ghana would equalize with nearly 10 minutes to play, setting the stage for newcomer John Anthony Brooks.
But while he didn't make the score sheet, Beckerman was pivotal in his role as defensive midfielder for the national team, according to RSL teammate Gil.
"He's a player who is going to hustle out there and put in the work for you, which is why I feel like he should be a starter," Gil said. "It was a great game by him, overall."
Brooks, a German-American who plays for Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga, headed home a corner kick from Sporting Kansas City’s Graham Zusi to give the United States a critical three points in group play. The 20-year- old Brooks was making his first non-friendly appearance with the U.S. senior team, making him cap-tied to the United States and ineligible to represent Germany in future FIFA competitions.
The late winner was precisely what the United States has become known for, Cassar said.
“You think of a U.S. team, and you think of a team that bites, has spirit, and no quit in them,” the coach added. “That’s exactly what our team has.”
RSL continued its string of World Cup starters with Beckerman, a group that also includes defender Eddie Pope in 2006 and forward Robbie Findley in 2010. The 2005 MLS expansion team has placed a starter on the U.S. men’s national team in every World Cup during the club’s existence.
“I’m just so happy for this country, for the state of Utah with Kyle and (goalkeeper) Nick (Rimando) representing us,” Cassar said. “It’s just been an awesome day.”