At first glance, it appears Real Salt Lake's move to acquire Kyle Beckerman was a good one.
It may have only been one game, and a friendly at that, one that will not count in the standings, but the presence of the veteran midfielder appeared to have a great effect in Real's 2-0 win over Everton FC of the English Premier League.
"He was a player that I really didn't like to play against, so the minute we got him I wanted to be the first to tell him welcome," said RSL midfielder Carey Talley. "I was happy with how things went with us, and I thought Kyle played really well."
His addition to the midfield brought out a fluidity that had been lacking lately with the team. The possession was better and the giveaways less frequent.
"Excellent. Excellent," was how coach Jason Kreis described the play in the middle. "It was a little surprising for me to be honest that they jelled that quickly ... I thought they did a great job of covering for each other and getting in the right positions for each other."
The newest member of the RSL squad may have technically started as the right midfielder, but from the opening possession, he slid to the middle of the field and played more of his traditional center midfielder position. It is something Kreis said is to be expected in the coming games as well.
"I am not asking Kyle Beckerman to play right midfield," he said. "Three weeks ago I wasn't asking Carey Talley to play right midfield. I am asking him to play right-center midfield. It is a little bit different than people think, typically. That's the way I want it played. I don't expect him to play on the right. I don't expect Nathan (Sturgis) to be playing on the left. There are three central midfielders there."
Beckerman's name may not be listed on the stat sheet with a goal or an assist. He wasn't flashy or didn't make any awe-inspiring moves. Perhaps his best offensive moment came in the sixth minute when he back-heeled a pass to Chris Wingert for a one-time shot that was just deflected wide by Everton keeper Tim Howard, but that isn't his game. Rather, it was his normal steady and almost calming influence that was most apparent in his debut.
The other glaring quality Beckerman brought was his incredible work rate. He would suck into the middle on every offensive possession, but anytime the Toffees got the ball out wide to their left side, Beckerman would sprint like a gazelle out to defend the attack. He was successful in slowing down or stopping the rush on every effort.
"He did exactly what I expected," said Kreis. "I remarked at one point while I was sitting up there because he was sprinting 10-yard doggies forward, backward, right, left just trying to get pressure on the ball. He was working his butt off, and that's why I brought him here."
While it was certainly beneficial for Real to have Beckerman, it appears to be a two-way partnership."It was great," said Beckerman. "Two goals in the first half, and we could have had a couple more. I didn't really know how quickly we would get to know each other, but it seemed to work out pretty quickly and we got to know each other as the game went on, and it was fun. I wasn't getting wins in Colorado, and I know they have been struggling to get wins here, so to get started with a win is encouraging."