SANDY (ABC 4 Sports) – A pair of iconic Real Salt Lake leaders, Captain Kyle Beckerman and GK Nick Rimando, were invited today by United States Men’s National Team manager Jurgen Klinsmann to join the upcoming USMNT camp, the dynamic duo – teammates dating back to their Miami Fusion days more than a dozen years ago – part of an initial squad of 16 players that will begin reporting today to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla.
Beckerman and Rimando are part of a U.S. Men’s National Team group which consists largely of foreign-based players who have completed their seasons and are ready to prepare for the series of matches that culminate in the start of FIFA World Cup qualifying on Friday, June 8 against Antigua & Barbuda in Tampa, Fla.
As many as 13 additions will be announced May 20 and will be a mixture of domestic and foreign-based players to round out the training camp. The team will train in Orlando until Friday, May 25, when Klinsmann will select a final 23-man roster for the upcoming five matches. The group then departs for Jacksonville, Fla., in preparation for the match on May 26 against Scotland (6 p.m. MT, NBC Sports Network, Galavision). The team will host a public training session May 25 at EverBank Field, also the home of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars.
Beckerman and Rimando could potentially miss as many as three Real Salt Lake matches – the May 26 home regular-season match against FC Dallas and the 2012 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup opener on Tuesday, May 29 – as well as the club’s potential Open Cup Round of 16 contest on June 5, IF it wins the week prior – between Saturday’s 1-0 win at Seattle and the team’s June 16 resumption of the MLS regular-season schedule at Chivas USA, upon conclusion of the upcoming round of FIFA windows.
“All the players coming now for this very special four-week period represent our core,” said Klinsmann on www.USsoccer.com. “It’s a clear signal to other players that right now it’s down to business. We’re playing World Cup qualifiers. It’s not about experimenting or seeing different players, it’s about who we think are the best. We are excited to start with this first group of players, and then welcome more at the beginning of next week. It’s the first time we will have our best players together for a longer stretch of time, so we have a chance to work very hard and go out and get results.” [More Quotes]
The nearly month-long series of training and games has been designed to mimic the circumstances the team will face in a tournament format, with meticulous planning dedicated to technical aspects, travel, nutrition, logistics and the rhythm of team movement to create a performance-driven environment.
The U.S. has collected four consecutive victories, including three straight shutout wins highlighted by the 1-0 triumph against four-time World Cup champion Italy. A total of 42 players have earned at least one cap since Klinsmann took the helm last July, and he and the coaching have now refined the player pool in advance of this summer’s crucial activities.
The team has lined up a series of friendlies in preparation for the start of World Cup qualifying. Following the match against Scotland, the U.S. continues its competition against the world’s top teams when it hosts five-time World Cup champions Brazil on Wednesday, May 30 in Landover, Md. Kickoff for the USA’s first-ever match at FedExField is set for 6 p.m. MT, and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN2, ESPN3 and TeleFutura. Fans can also follow the match live online via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker and Twitter @ussoccer.
For the last game before the start of World Cup qualifying, the United States will make a rare visit to Canada when it renews the rivalry on Sunday, June 3 at BMO Field in Toronto, in a match that could see RSL teammates Beckerman & Rimando face locker-room brother Will Johnson for Canada. Kickoff for the USA’s first match on Canadian soil since 1997 is set for 5 p.m. ET, and the match will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network and Univision Deportes Network.
The United States will kick off the effort to qualify for its seventh-consecutive FIFA World Cup when it hosts Antigua & Barbuda on June 8 at Raymond James Stadium. The Semifinal Round opener begins at 5 p.m. MT live on ESPN, ESPN3 and Galavision. Four days later, the U.S. plays its first road match in group play this cycle when it visits Guatemala.
Real Salt Lake (8-3-2, 26 points, West #1) will enjoy a scheduled bye this weekend as the rest of MLS enters Week 11 of the regular season, the Claret-and-Cobalt sitting atop the overall MLS table as well as the Western Conference, RSL securing seven of a possible nine points during its most recent three-game week to move atop the overall League and MLS Western Conference tables; although both San Jose (7-2-2, 23 pts.; West #2) and Seattle (7-2-1, 22 pts.; West #3) each have games in hand over RSL, which has played an MLS-high 13 games during the first 10 weeks of the 2012 campaign.
Courtesy of his mid-year return to the USMNT fold after the appointment of Klinsmann in July, Beckerman has consistently been relied upon to help set the tone for the group during recent U.S. camps and friendlies. The RSL captain, who spent two weeks training with German Bundesliga side FC Kaiserslautern last November following the end of RSL’s campaign, had earned starting nods in five of the USA’s seven games under Klinsmann in 2011, including contests at France and Slovenia late last year. The 30-year-old Beckerman has collected 18 “caps” for the U.S. Senior team and made his fourth January camp appearance in the last six campaigns (2007, 2008, 2010 & 2012) earlier this year. The Crofton, Md. native was the fourth-most-capped player in the January camp, behind only Benny Feilhaber (38), Heath Pearce (33) and Ricardo Clark (32).
With four MLS Save-of-the-Week wins in the first 10 weeks, Real Salt Lake veteran GK Nick Rimando has successfully replicated his Budweiser Man of the Match performance for the United States earlier this year in Panama’s Estadio Rommel Fernandez. Despite playing only the first 45 minutes on Jan. 25 at Panama, Rimando earned those honors after making several standout saves that allowed the U.S. to register a 1-0 win in Panama City. The 32-year-old Rimando, who participated in the squad’s annual January camp alongside RSL teammate Beckerman, has made six appearances for the USA during his decorated career and will join English Premier League ‘keepers Tim Howard (Everton) and Brad Guzan (Aston Villa) on Klinsmann’s 23-man roster.
Rimando has been no stranger to the USMNT’s January gatherings, as this year’s stint marked his third consecutive year as part of the camp collective. Rimando served as the elder statesman of the gathering for a second straight year, as the 32-year-old netminder anchored a goalkeeping corps that also included up-and-comers Bill Hamid (21) and Sean Johnson (22). The 12-year MLS veteran was called into the U.S. Senior team side on three occasions during 2011, most recently in October in advance of friendlies against Honduras and Ecuador.