Skip to content

One more time: spinning the Kyle Beckerman-U.S. national team argument wheel. Yes, again.

Jul 16, 2013, 4:14 PM EDT

Canada v United States Getty Images

Kyle Beckerman is a holding midfielder. His job is to screen the defense, acting as a midfielder destroyer, using his wile to clog and dog passing the lanes, channeling his controlled tenacity into useful tackling and 50-50 ball winning. In possession, he is the first outlet for defenders, charged with moving the ball along in some sensible, orderly way to more attack-minded types.

Those are his unchanging orders around the national team.

Only, to listen to a faction of U.S. Soccer supporters, Beckerman should be scoring goals like Jozy Altidore or assisting like vintage Tab Ramos in addition to everything else. Or something close to it, even from a holding midfield position.

ESPN FC’s Jeff Carlisle said it best when he called Beckerman a polarizing figure. I’ll go a step further:

At the risk of being insulting, I have to wonder if fans who cannot see any value in the Real Salt Lake man just don’t like the way he looks (the dreads and all), or perhaps miss some basic understanding of the game? It’s OK if you don’t like Beckerman as a holding midfielder; I disagree, because I’ve seen him perform wonderfully for Real Salt Lake in that role for years. But you must recognize that he is a holding midfielder at least, a.k.a. a “defensive midfielder.”

I get the feeling that too many supporters cannot or will not acknowledge that teams need balance and roles.

I mean, could a football team function with a bunch of skilled position players and no men to do the blocking? Could a basketball team function without someone to go get rebounds? No. And most fans have a general understanding of that.

Most soccer fans will allow that a side needs defenders, whose role is generally “stop and distribute.” But they might fall short in recognizing that defending happens all over the field and in varying individual balances between “attack” and “defend.”

(MORE: Previewing tonight’s U.S.-Costa Rica Gold Cup contest)

Midfields also need balance, and that’s what a guy like Beckerman is all about. Show me a midfield with four attack-minded types and I’ll show you an All-Star team designed for “show,” or a league team that is going nowhere fast. No, the Real Salt Lake man is not a set-up specialist, although a couple of skillful assists lately have reminded us that Beckerman has that element in his game.

Teams require a certain amount of midfield steel, willing mudders who are happy to win the ball and move it along selflessly. Part and parcel is a willingness to retain the defensive shape, to steadfastly protect against counter attacks rather than impatiently springing forward (as Jermaine Jones, top man on the U.S. holding midfield depth chart, too frequently gets caught doing.)

After all, the reasonable approach to these matches as heavy favorites is to secure a fairly comfortable win; something along the lines of 3-0 or 4-1 does just fine, thank you very much. The silly approach is to go crashing forward in search of 6-0 or 7-0, the kind of romp-and-stomps that may satisfy one small segment of fandom but involves a bit of wholly unnecessary risk.

source:

Is it best when screening midfielders can tackle like mad dogs and then pass like Xabi Alonso or Daniele De Rossi? Of course! But Alonso and De Rossi are two of the best in the world at what they do; there just aren’t many Alonsos and De Rossis out there.

What I’ve said before about Beckerman is this: he’s probably not the optimum choice for games that will require tons of attacking, where the holding man’s job is equal parts screening the defense and moving the ball forward with a little more of playmaker’s eye.

But in tough games, in the World Cup qualifiers played in those intimidating parts of the world? Give me a guy like Beckerman for those, even if his role is off the bench. He’s fearless and experienced, and that means so much in those testing environments.

And in the Gold Cup elimination matches ahead, give me the leader who knows his role and who isn’t afraid to step into the midfield tackle, to make that area a less comfortable place to be.

That’s Beckerman – whether or not you are the person who realizes it.

Latest Posts
  1. Portland Timbers out of CONCACAF CL after loss in Honduras

    Oct 22, 2014, 9:20 AM EDT

    TimbersOlimpia Getty Images

    The MLS side was eliminated from group stage play on an away goals tiebreaker as Honduran side Olimpia goes through.

  2. FA investigating racial abuse in Championship match

    Oct 22, 2014, 8:42 AM EDT

    BellusciJerome Getty Images

    Norwich striker Cameron Jerome complained to Mark Clattenburg that a Leeds player was racially abusing him, and the matter is being investigated.

  3. Podolski to speak to Wenger, Arsenal about his future

    Oct 22, 2014, 7:46 AM EDT

    Podolski Getty Images

    Arsenal’s energetic German winger loves the club, but admitted he can’t sit on the bench forever.

  4. QPR chairman releases statement on Redknapp-Taarabt feud

    Oct 21, 2014, 11:10 PM EDT

    Tony Fernandes looks on at Loftus Road during a QPR match this season. Getty Images

    “On behalf of the club, I would like to apologise to the QPR supporters for the embarrassment this has caused,” Fernandes wrote.

  5. Tuesday’s Top 5 Champions League Goals: Which was the best?

    Oct 21, 2014, 10:15 PM EDT

    Edinson Cavani AP

    Who scored the best goal in Tuesday’s Champions League action?

  6. A Klinsmann Casualty? Juan Agudelo passed on by Wolverhampton

    Oct 21, 2014, 8:15 PM EDT

    Dutch Eredivisie - Roda JC Kerkrade v FC Utrecht AP

    One hopes Agudelo’s story will resonate with Jurgen Klinsmann.

  7. Steven Gerrard admits he denied move to Real Madrid and that it may haunt him in the future

    Oct 21, 2014, 7:15 PM EDT

    Switzerland Soccer Champions League AP

    “It might be something I regret down the line for not challenging myself,” said Gerrard.

  8. Sunderland players offer traveling fans refund for 8-0 romp at Southampton

    Oct 21, 2014, 5:50 PM EDT

    Jack Cork, Vito Mannone

    The players will shell out over $90,000 to cover the cost of the traveling fans.

  9. UEFA Champions League roundup: Bayern, Chelsea, Shakhtar go crazy on 40-goal night

    Oct 21, 2014, 5:10 PM EDT

    AS Roma v FC Bayern Muenchen - UEFA Champions League Getty Images

    40 goals were scored in eight games on Tuesday, as Groups E-H exploded into life.

  10. Chelsea 6-0 Maribor: Hazard brace keeps Blues atop Group G

    Oct 21, 2014, 5:01 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer Champions League

    A sensational ending to a sensational performance by Hazard and Chelsea as a whole.

  11. AS Roma 1-7 Bayern Munich: Sublime Bayern smash Roma to go five points clear in Group E

    Oct 21, 2014, 4:35 PM EDT

    Italy Soccer Champions League AP

    When Bayern Munich are firing on all cylinders, they are scary, scary sight.

  12. FOLLOW LIVE: At the half, Chelsea leading Maribor 3-0

    Oct 21, 2014, 3:49 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    Unlucky for Maribor. Comfortable for Chelsea.

  13. LIVE – Champions League half time update: Blowouts! Get your blowouts here!

    Oct 21, 2014, 3:42 PM EDT

    FBL-EUR-C1-SHAKHTAR-PORTO Getty Images

    Groups E-H are in action on Wednesday in Europe as eight games take place, and there are some gaudy score lines after just 45 minutes.

  14. FOLLOW LIVE: At the half, unstoppable Bayern Munich up 5-0 at Roma

    Oct 21, 2014, 3:36 PM EDT

    arjen_robben AP

    It’s an absolute shellacking going into half-time with Bayern giving a masterclass display in Roma.

  15. Philadelphia Union CEO heavily implies they have their long-term manager in Curtin

    Oct 21, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT

    Jim Curtin AP

    It’s the right move for Philly, especially given the man management shown by Curtin.

  16. Manuel Pellegrini upbeat, but Manchester City’s Champions League dreams fading

    Oct 21, 2014, 2:48 PM EDT

    Pellegrini defiant despite City blowing a 2-0 lead in Moscow.

  17. 22-year-old set to start for Arsenal as injury woes hit goalkeepers

    Oct 21, 2014, 2:07 PM EDT

    Arsenal Training Session Getty Images

    Missing Koscielny is a far bigger blow than having to start a 22-year-old, though.

  18. CSKA Moscow 2-2 Manchester City: Citizens blow 2-0 lead, Champions League hopes in ruin

    Oct 21, 2014, 2:01 PM EDT

    AP

    City chuck away 2-0 lead in Russian capital, as UCL hopes hang in the balance.

  19. PST’s Major League Soccer power rankings: Did Seattle, DC leapfrog LA?

    Oct 21, 2014, 1:21 PM EDT

    Aaron Schoenfeld, Justin Meram, Tyson Wahl AP

    We’re going to have to have a talk about the presupposed power of the superior West at some point soon.

Featured video

Week 8: Saturday PL recap