Winning attitude in the altitude

By By Jon Gilbert

By Jon Gilbert

When Kyle Beckerman traveled to Salt Lake City on July 16 to join his new club, he made sure to pack his competitive spirit.

Real Salt Lake is sure glad he did.

“(RSL) brought me over to play my type of soccer,” Beckerman said. “I have nothing on my mind but winning. I go all out. I wanted to come and bring that.”

Beckerman’s relentless pursuit of the ball involves him in seemingly all of the action. He sprints tirelessly from start to finish, from baseline to baseline and sideline to sideline.

Beckerman mildly stated, “I have a good energy.”

Shaping his game after players such as Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard of English Premier League powers Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC, respectively, Beckerman enjoys playing offense as well as defense.

Early in his playing career, Beckerman was put into more of a defensive role. But the eight-year veteran stayed positive and learned from the experience.

“It made me a more honest player,” he said.

Beckerman’s position in the midfield allows him to facilitate both facets of RSL’s game.

Since Beckerman took over the midfield position for Real Salt Lake, the club’s offense and possession have improved immensely.

“It’s definitely coming down from the coaching staff,” Beckerman said.

He applauds head coach Jason Kreis and his staff for the way the club trains.

“(Kreis is) somebody you want to win for,” Beckerman said.

Winning comes with hard work and that’s what Beckerman relishes.

“Practice has been at a high quality. It’s really fun, it’s hard work,” Beckerman said. “Then you get to the game and it’s an easy thing.”

Games haven’t been necessarily easy on Beckerman’s current teammates.

RSL was just 1-8-6 and drowning in the deep end of the Western Conference pool before Beckerman arrived. Now the club is 4-12-6 and pressuring the rest of the league for a postseason berth.

“I believe, and now the whole team believes,” said Beckerman.

The 25-year-old is in his first stint with a losing club outside of his rookie year. From the time Beckerman entered the league in 2000, he has almost always been associated with a winning franchise.

From playing reserve for Miami FC to starting in the 2005 and 2006 Western Conference Finals for the Colorado Rapids, Beckerman has played elite soccer.

So how does a habitual winner step in to play for a one-win club while holding on to optimism?

“If you’re losing or winning it’s definitely contagious,” Beckerman said. “I have a winning mentality. Even with the losses, I felt like we were heading in the right direction.”

The right direction for RSL is up. Having passed Los Angeles in the West, next up on Real’s checklist of teams to overtake is Beckerman’s most recent former team — Colorado.

The Rapids hold a 10-point lead on RSL. But with two wins in its last three matches, Real is applying all the heat it can.

A major contributor to RSL’s progression is a trio of newcomers surrounding Beckerman. Fabian Espindola, Javier Morales and Matias Mantilla — Argentines signed by RSL on Aug. 17 — have combined for three goals and two assists in the three matches they have started together.

“They all bring their own little thing,” Beckerman said.

The three possess Beckerman-like intensity.

“Coming from Argentina, it’s such an atmosphere that either win and everything’s good or lose and you don’t leave your house,” Beckerman said.

Beckerman enjoys his new soccer home, Rice-Eccles Stadium. He loves the energy that Salt Lake’s soccer fans bring on a consistent basis.

That’s why the midfielder applauds the fans each time he leaves the pitch.

“I appreciate them being there when we win and when we lose,” said Beckerman. “You want to win for them so bad because they’re so into the game. When I was in Colorado, I felt that this was a really good fan base.”

The fans are just part of what has made Salt Lake City a fit.

Spending the past five seasons in Colorado, the climate and atmosphere didn’t change much when Beckerman moved. He also says that he spends a lot of time with his teammates outside of practice.

“It’s been pretty easy transitioning,” Beckerman said.

On Wednesday, Beckerman continues his quest to turn RSL from the West’s worst team to a legitimate playoff contender.

“Nothing’s over yet,” Beckerman said.

Typical Beckerman: fight like crazy until the final bell sounds.

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Jarad Reddekopp

Former Colorado Rapid midfielder Kyle Beckerman is trying to help Real Salt Lake regroup and keep playoff hopes alive.