LEHI — Just a month on the job, U.S. National Team coach Jurgen Klinsmann is already proving himself to be a "team" player when it comes to dealing with players.
Real Salt Lake will benefit from that this weekend.
This Friday and next Tuesday are FIFA dates, and national teams around the world have called in players for a series of exhibition games. Real Salt Lake had five players called up, including Kyle Beckerman by the U.S. National Team. That presented a significant problem for Beckerman's club team.
Without Beckerman, RSL knew it would only have three healthy midfielders available — Collen Warner, Andy Williams and Luis Gil — for this Saturday's match against Philadelphia. Knowing the magnitude of the game in the MLS playoff picture, Kreis knew he needed to figure out an alternative.
First he checked with Beckerman to see if he'd be willing to skip this Friday's friendly against Costa Rica in California, which he agreed to. Then Kreis checked with Klinsmann to see if he'd be willing to allow Beckerman to play with short-handed RSL on Saturday and then join the U.S. National Team in Europe for its Tuesday game at Belgium. He agreed.
"It's very nice to be able to have a national team coach who thinks about our player, who's contracted to us. For him to be understanding of that was very, very nice," said Kreis, who logically said it made sense.
"I don't think you're ever going to play two games on two different continents within four days and play the same team anyways, so I think they were always going to pick one game anyway," said Kreis.
In Belgium, Beckerman will get an opportunity to play with more of the European-based players on the U.S. National Team, which is a great measuring stick as Klinsmann makes his player evaluations.
NEARING HIS RETURN:Ned Grabavoy has missed five straight games with a groin injury, but that may come to an end this weekend.
It's unlikely Grabavoy will start this weekend, but Kreis said there's a chance the midfielder could be used as a substitute. Grabavoy admits this week's training sessions will ultimately determine whether he's healthy enough to contribute.
"It's kind of the last little things, more of the defensive side of things and being able to fully commit and tackle and be able to go through the ball," Grabavoy said about his progress. "The passing and running feels pretty good for me right now."
If Grabavoy were good to go, Kreis said RSL would not have pleaded with Klinsmann for Beckerman to stay. But nobody wanted to put Grabavoy in a tough spot.
"I know the training staff and coaching staff don't want me to feel pressure that I have to start if I'm not 100 percent," said Grabavoy.
MORE UNAVAILABLES: Along with Beckerman, Alvaro Saborio (Costa Rica), Jean Alexandre (Haiti), Arturo Alvarez (El Salvador) and Will Johnson (Canada) are the other players who've been called in by their respective national teams.
All four — three of whom are midfielders like Beckerman — will miss Saturday's match against Philadelphia, but all four should be back for the following weekend's game at Seattle.
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