SANDY — When Kyle Beckerman last spoke to the Utah media on Nov. 1, there was an inevitability in the tone of voice that he’d be back with Real Salt Lake in 2018.
He said he felt energized about how well RSL played in the second half of the season and genuinely sounded like he wanted to be back. There was no tone of looking for greener pastures as he headed into the offseason as a free agent for the first time in his career.
That inevitability became a reality on Tuesday as RSL announced that it had signed its captain to a multi-year contract.
“The way we ended last year, we didn’t want it to end, we wanted it to keep going. We had to wait a little bit, but we’re almost there. It’s just exciting with everybody coming back,” said Beckerman.
It took two and a half months for the deal to get done — which Beckerman acknowledged was longer than he’d hoped — but he stressed that all that matters is that it’s done.
“I had some really good conversations with Mike (Petke) and Dell Loy (Hansen) throughout the season, and at the end of the season, and their vision aligned with mine of where we wanted to see this club in the next couple years and into the future,” said Beckerman.
Real Salt Lake officially kicks off the preseason on Jan. 22, with its season-opener slated for March 3 at FC Dallas.
Beckerman has been the face of RSL since he was acquired in a trade with Colorado back in 2007, and that will now continue for at least two more years. The exact length of the contract wasn’t disclosed.
Beckerman, 35, is entering his 19th season in MLS, having previously played for Miami and Colorado. He is a true iron man of MLS as he leads MLS in career games played (432), games started (403) and minutes played among field players (36,020).
For RSL, he’s appeared in 284 matches and recorded 29 goals and 33 assists.
As Beckerman enters his 12th season in Utah, trophies are foremost on his mind. He believes the way RSL ended the season under first-year coach Mike Petke, with an 8-3-4 record over the final 15 games, the foundation is there for success.
“As time went on, Mike’s system and his personality kind of started to rub off on the team. The way we ended the season, we played playoff teams right here and we were right there, we beat Seattle, we beat Kansas City. If we can get some consistency this year and have a full complete season, then we should be in the playoffs and then should have a chance to win some trophies,” Beckerman said.
With an average age of 25, RSL heads into the 2018 season as one of the younger teams in MLS. Petke believes Beckerman’s veteran presence will be as important as ever.
"I cannot imagine an RSL team next year without Kyle here. Without Kyle with the armband on. Without Kyle leading the charge," Petke said in a press release. "I think that he is iconic here in Salt Lake and that he is one of the best players in the history of this league. And I think he deserves and will earn anything that he gets. There will be a statue here of Kyle one day. It's a no-brainer that Kyle is back; we couldn't do this without him."
Petke played with Beckerman for three seasons in Colorado from 2005 to 2007, and experienced firsthand the impact Beckerman has on a match.
In fact, last March at Petke’s introductory press conference as new head coach, he said he remembers very well when RSL “stole” Beckerman from Colorado midway through the 2007 season. Beckerman then went on to help RSL beat Colorado on the final day of the regular season to eliminate Petke and the Rapids from playoff contention.
As Real Salt Lake’s head coach, Petke’s style is to really push the pace, and Beckerman’s steady presence at holding midfield is critical to the approach actually working.
Beckerman anticipates that Petke will want to implement a bunch of new things this preseason, his first preseason with Real Salt Lake. If all goes well, Beckerman said, “we should come out flying right from the preseason.”