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Player Spotlight

Kyle Beckerman Could Play A Key Role on Tuesday

With Michael Bradley injured and Geoff Cameron suspended, the Real Salt Lake captain could be called upon to play the biggest game of his international career Tuesday night against Mexico.

BY Noah Davis Posted
September 07, 2013
9:58 AM
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica– After pre-game warmups on the field at Estadio Nacional, Kyle Beckerman returned to the United States locker room with the same mindset he always has when he isn't starting: be ready because the call could come at any moment.

Seconds later, the call came.

After Michael Bradley suffered a freak injury, the American coaching staff told the Real Salt Lake star and teammate Geoff Cameron to return to the field. One of them would be starting in place of the Roma general.

"It was really quick. I saw that he had some problems after he took a shot in warmups but I didn't really think too much of it. I thought he would just walk it off. I didn't know how serious it was," Beckerman told ASN after the match. "I got to the locker room and it was, 'go back out and warm up.' Really it's nothing much."

His rapid preparation went for naught as Cameron teamed with Jermaine Jones for 90 minutes in Costa Rica. But the Stoke City player will miss Tuesday's crucial qualifier against Mexico due to yellow card accumulation and Bradley, walking on crutches after the match, is questionable, Jurgen Klinsmann will likely slot Beckerman into the starting XI at Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.

"I just have to stay ready. That's all you can really do. Stay ready. Stay focused. And if the call comes, be ready," the midfielder said.

Beckerman has played a key role before during a match against Mexico. He patrolled central midfield during the U.S.'s historic victory in Estadio Azteca in 2012, destroying El Tri attacks and helping to slow down the pace of the match.

"It's a tough game and it takes a lot of work from everyone to get a win. It will really take the same [in Columbus]," he said.

The Klinsmann coaching plan called for difficult tests like the fixture in Mexico as a way to develop players beyond the first team. If he starts—Sacha Kljestan, who wasn't called into camp but was in New York and could join the team in Ohio, is another option—Beckerman may succeed or he may fail in the moment. But the rigors of the last two years have prepared him and other men like Clarence Goodson, who seems likely to suit up at center back, to be ready when they are pressed into unlikely duty.

"Part of qualifying is that, how much depth do you have. Fortunately, we've built a team with a lot of depth, and I think we feel confident about guys stepping in and doing a job," Landon Donovan said after the game on Friday night. "There are guys who have wanted to play and who deserve to play and now they are going to have a chance."

Noah Davis is ASN's deputy editor. Follow him on Twitter.

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