SANDY — As of Wednesday morning, Real Salt Lake coach Jeff Cassar had yet to speak directly to Kyle Beckerman or Nick Rimando, something he figured would take place within the next 24 hours.
When he does finally chat with the U.S. national team duo, Cassar has a pretty good idea what they’re going to say — he expects they’ll want to play this Friday when RSL hosts the New England Revolution.
The big question is, will Cassar let them less than 48 hours after a lengthy commute home from South America?
“Probably not,” said Cassar.
“Those guys are probably going to say, 'We want to be in here,' but we’re going to have to make a tough decision for them.”
RSL posted a 1-3-2 record while Beckerman and Rimando were away with the U.S. national team, and collectively everyone is excited to get them back in the fold. While Cassar didn’t completely rule out the possibility of either playing, he did indicate Rimando is far less likely.
“When you’re that third-string goalkeeper you actually get a brunt of the work 'cause Tim (Howard’s) not taking extra shots, Brad (Guzan’s) not taking shots, and Nick becomes now a guy that probably ends up working harder than the other ones because he’s doing so much extra work to keep the other players sharp,” said Cassar.
Rimando will likely return to Utah a little sore and need a few extra days of rest to recharge physically and mentally.
As for Beckerman, Cassar hinted that even if his captain wants to play he might limit him to being just a substitute. Even though Beckerman didn’t play in Tuesday’s World Cup ouster against Belgium, he played 90 minutes in the previous three U.S. games over a 10-day stretch, and likely won’t be at full speed.
RSL defender Chris Wingert said he’s thrilled to get Beckerman and Rimando back, but wishes it hadn’t come so early.
“I’d give it back in a heartbeat if they could be back there for another week or two. Obviously, I wish they’d went through (into the next round), and not only for the country but also for Kyle and Nick. The experience, I’m sure, was incredible,” said Wingert.
Fellow defender Nat Borchers said as soon as the final whistle blew Tuesday in Brazil, he immediately began looking forward to their return.
“There’s two guys who are great veteran guys in the locker room obviously, amazing players on the field,” said Borchers. “There’s nobody who can do the jobs those two guys do for us.”
Collectively, there was a lot of head scratching after RSL trained on Wednesday when the Salt Lake players were asked about Beckerman being left on the bench against Belgium.
Cassar called it “weird” and believes Beckerman could’ve helped.
RSL midfielder Ned Grabavoy, Wingert and Borchers all expressed their surprise at his exclusion, and believe he’d earned the right to start after three strong performances in group play against Ghana, Portugal and Germany.
One player likely wouldn’t have made a big difference against the extremely talented Belgians.
Grabavoy said it was an exciting ride while it lasted.
“Everyone’s proud of our country as a whole to go in there and get out of that group, and then really to try and stay in that game against Belgium and fight to the very end of that, I think we can take a sense of pride from that,” said Grabavoy.
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