The game was billed as a rematch, another chapter in a storied rivalry. But, for United States midfielder Kyle Beckerman, it was more of an re-introduction as he started his first match in 18 months.
A three-time all-star for Real Salt Lake, Beckerman earned just his 13th cap on Tuesday night as the U.S. played to a 1-1 draw with Mexico Wednesday at Lincoln Financial Field.
The 27-year-old played a central defensive role for the team and was able to draw a first half foul on Efrain Juarez that yielded a yellow card. He showed good ability to stay with his man, controlled the ball and played the entire ninety minutes for the U.S.
Following the game, head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said Beckerman played “exceptional” and was integral in supporting the team’s back four defenders. The coach said he wanted the players to express themselves and have fun, something Beckerman said makes it easier for his teammates to play.
Although the contest was merely a friendly, Beckerman’s performance could garner him more looks in the future from the new head coach. This was Klinsmann’s first game at the helm, after being hired on July 29. The national team will play their next game on Sept. 2 against Costa Rica in Cali.
“I’m just going to take it one game at a time,” Beckerman said. “Hopefully for the next time, I’ll be called in. If I do, I’ll give it my all and help the team.”
On Tuesday night, the coach used a 4-2-3-1 system. Beckerman said he was fine with that formation, as he said anything to get on the field is fine by him. He also said he had no problem adjusting to a five man midfield, as it was needed to slow down the high-powered Mexican team.
“[Klinsmann] wanted me to be that kind of safety net in front of the back four,” said Beckerman “…I’m just trying to help the team.”
Beckerman said this was the first time he had the chance to play with Landon Donovan since the two were teammates on the Under-17 national squad. A former top prospect alongside Donovan, Beckerman never seemed to jell under former coach Bob Bradley. Beckerman said the new coach is more laid back then his predecessor and seems to place more of the pressure on himself.
“If you make a mistake it’s all right, just pick the guy up,” Beckerman said.
The lone other time Beckerman faced Mexico was in a 5-0 loss in the final of the 2009 Gold Cup, as both teams used mostly reserves. Wednesday was the first time Beckerman had lined up with the rest of the national team’s top talent.
In 22 games this season with Real Salt Lake, Beckerman has two goals and played in the league’s All-Star game in July. He was one of just two MLS players to start the friendly on Tuesday night, the other being Landon Donovan.
Contact staff writer Matt Breen at email@example.com or @matt_breen on Twitter.