Some names just belong together. Beck and Harline. Stockton and Malone. Vranes and Chambers.
Beckerman and Rimando.
Real Salt Lake re-signed Kyle Beckerman and is reportedly set to add Nick Rimando. Both are near the end of their careers, but still play at a high level. Beyond that, their 11 years together in Utah has made them one of the more enduring duos in Beehive State sports history.
Even casual soccer fans can identify them.
They’ve transcended soccer and moved into the culture.
Whenever there was a big game for Real, there they were. They handled a massive amount of the team’s interviews. And they’ve put faces to the franchise.
Major League Soccer isn’t the biggest attraction in the market, but it’s a legitimate one. Real averaged 18,781 fans in 2017, down a thousand from the year before, but that’s understandable because the team didn’t make the playoffs. Still, it averaged more fans than teams in bigger markets such as Houston, Dallas, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Philadelphia and Denver.
A large part of that is that fans have something they can hang onto. They have Beckerman and Rimando, as familiar and reliable as the 90th South exit to Rio Tinto.
The club added youth in the offseason, and is up front about transitioning to the new era under Mike Petke. But retaining the former national team members is important in areas beyond the field.
Ask any youth soccer player along the Wasatch Front who their favorite RSL player is. It will nearly always be one of these two.
So for the next year or two, RSL fans should enjoy the view. Rimando and Beckerman have showmanship and they understand marketing. They are a rarity in pro sports these days, i.e. players who are content to spend virtually all their careers in one city. And they have adroitly promoted the game. They remind me of the story I once heard regarding the late Jack Murphy, a respected San Diego sports columnist. Murphy was said to have been offered a job at the Los Angeles Times, so he called Times columnist Jim Murray and asked his advice.
Murray reminded Murphy that he was an institution in San Diego and asked why he would want to move to L.A. and start over? Murphy stayed in San Diego, where they named a stadium after him.
Rimando and Beckerman?
Stadiums aren’t named after writers or athletes any more. They’re named after big companies and donors. At the same time, Sandy City should name a street after them.
Two national team players who led RSL to two MLS Cup finals is enough to get their names immortalized somewhere.