Sporting KC

Kyle Beckerman accepting role as leader of young Real Salt Lake squad

Updated: 2013-12-06T04:46:44Z

By KATHLEEN GIER

The Kansas City Star

When Real Salt Lake midfielder Kyle Beckerman arrived in Kansas City, his signature dreadlocks were discretely tucked away in a stocking cap.

However, he found a different way to show off his unique style through picking the team’s dress code for the road trip, and this time, he decided on a camouflage and khaki.

“We tried denim on denim against LA and that didn’t work so we switched it up for Portland to camo and khaki and stuck with it,” Beckerman said.

Salt Lake is hoping to continue that success against Sporting Kansas City this Saturday when the teams meet in the MLS Cup final at 3 p.m.

Beckerman and goalkeeper Nick Rimado started the custom five years ago of picking the team’s apparel and they’ve been doing it ever since.

“In the playoffs we always do dress codes for all the away playoff matches and we’ve done it since 2009,” Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis said. “It was a tradition that these guys started and it’s a lot of fun.”

Beckerman and Rimando have brought a sense of stability to the young team, having played the majority of eight seasons together in Salt Lake. They are two of seven current members of Real Salt Lake that were on the 2009 MLS Cup team and they have played all 1,710 minutes of Salt Lake’s playoff history across 18 games.

Beckerman began his professional career with the Miami Fusion in 2000 and moved to Colorado following the dispersal draft in 2002. He was acquired by Real Salt Lake midway through the 2007 season.

In his 14-year career, Beckerman is one of just 20 players to start more than 300 games in their MLS career as well as being an All-Star for seven consecutive seasons. In addition to the 2009 MLS Cup, he was on the U.S. team thatwon the CONCACAF Gold Cup that year.

This season, with the addition of several younger players to the roster, his role as a team captain has expanded into teaching.

“The players completely outperformed my expectations and a lot of that comes down to guys like the two next to me,” Kreis said motioning to Beckerman and Rimando. “I think in some ways, they were the best coaches this group could have asked for. They led extremely well, taught the players around them and accepted all the new players extremely graciously.”

Beckerman said the teaching has come naturally as a league veteran.

“We are there trying to welcome them and get them on board as quickly as possible and then on the other hand, these guys have seen what we have going on in Salt Lake and they want to get on board as quick as possible,” Beckerman said. “They told us before the year started that it would be a big year for us and we had to make sure we’d be together so I think we were prepared.”

To reach Kathleen Gier, call 816-234-4875 or send email to kgier@kcstar.com

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