Real Salt Lake’s internationals
Photo Credit: smackdowntay (smackdowntay.blogspot.com)
Several years ago, this article could never exist. Real didn’t have players of the caliber of today’s squad. We had some of the same players, but they hadn’t reached the national team level that they’re at today.
Over the past two years or so, many Real players have stepped into the international spotlight. Some were brief stints, other players have had their stays extended.
Real Salt Lake is represented well on the US Men’s National team, especially compared to other MLS teams. Youngster Luis Gil has become one of the shoe-in starters for the younger teams and is expected to blossom into a star for the United States.
On the senior team, Real’s got Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando that are called up for international duty for most fixtures featuring USA. Since being brought back into the mix of players for the USMNT about two years ago, Kyle Beckerman has moved up the ranks and made his mark. US Coach Jurgen Klinnsman is quite the fan of Kyle. Since taking over as coach, our captain has enjoyed a lot more time commanding the US ranks from the central midfield position. Kyle hasn’t exactly been a fan favorite on the national team. Not all fans think he’s good enough to be playing at that level. But Klinnsman obviously thinks Beckerman’s the right man for the job. He said that Kyle is able to fill in the “number 6” position very effectively. In other words, he’s able to shut down the opponents attack and distribute the ball out to the wings. Kyle hasn’t gotten as much time lately as other players have stepped their game up. But Kyle Beckerman also has his RSL business to deal with while the Americans abroad can put all their focus on their national team.
RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando has done well for the US national team. He came into the player pool not long after Beckerman started representing the United States. Rimando started in several friendlies and did quite well in net. His time as a starter was rather temporary as Tim Howard, the regular starter, slipped right back into his place between the posts. Since then, Nick has served as a strong back-up for the United States.
Unknown to many fans was the fact that Nat Borchers (Yes, our White Rhino) had some minutes for the US national team. He played in the same games that Nick Rimando was starting in. He didn’t make any earth-shattering mistakes or anything like that. On the contrary, he played quite well if I remember correctly. However, Nat hasn’t been called up to national duty since.
Real Salt Lake also features the likes of other players that represent their various nations at the international level. You’ve got Will Johnson for Canada and Alvaro Saborio suiting up for Costa Rica. Yordany Alvarez played for Cuba before he defected to the United States. (See more on that story on the Player Profile I did on Alvarez!) I seriously doubt he’ll ever play for them again.
Will Johnson has been a regular for the Canadian national team for quite a while now. But he hasn’t played the roles that we RSL supporters are accustomed to. He actually played up top as a forward for them around the time he came to Real Salt Lake. I believe he’s shifted back into the midfield, but don’t hold me to that one. He’ll be playing against the US national team and fellow RSL midfielder Kyle Beckerman tomorrow when the two nations square off for a World Cup Qualifier match.
Alvaro Saborio is a regular for the Costa Rican national team. He’s represented his nation plenty of times and sent plenty of goals into the back of the net. He used to be a fan favorite. That all changed after the poor guy went through some seriously tough times. He was with one of his friends and Costa Rica teammates when his friend died. On that same outing with his national team he missed several clear-cut chances including a PK. He wasn’t called up for the next string of international friendlies. However, since then he has come back to his old form and the fans of Costa Rica are warming back up to him.
Don’t by any means expect this to be the end. I can promise you that more and more RSL players will be moving into their respective national player pools in the coming years. As Salt Lake gets better and better, its players will get noticed.
If you’ve got the time, check out the USA vs Canada match tomorrow! It should be a cracker! (And Canada will be debuting some really fresh-looking new uniforms!)
GO REAL SALT LAKE!!!