SANDY, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – One of the greatest MLS players of all-time, and one of the faces of the Real Salt Lake franchise is retiring.
Kyle Beckerman, perhaps the best defensive midfielder in MLS history, announced on Twitter that he is hanging his cleats after 21 MLS seasons, the last 14 with RSL.
“I came to Utah knowing there was a mountain to climb but feeling we could get to the top with a team that valued hard work, belief in ourselves and commitment to one another,” said Beckerman, who came to RSL in 2008 from the Colorado Rapids. “We succeeded together, and I lifted a trophy for each one of you who believed in us. We created a foundation on which RSL Nation will rest for years to come,” Beckerman said in his statement. “There are so many people to thank over 21 years. I appreciate all of the teammates I’ve battled with on the field and the coaches who put their trust in me. Thank you to all of the fans who never wavered though the highs and the lows, under sunny skies and through rain, sleet to and snow. Most of all, I’m grateful to my family who have been my biggest supporters. My love for the game comes second only to you, and I know there is plenty to look forward to in this next chapter.”
Beckerman scored 41 goals and had 55 assists in his MLS career. He played in the 2014 World Cup with the U.S. Men’s National Team, and has 58 international appearances.
Beckerman, RSL’s captain since 2008 and a 9-time MLS All-Star, was instrumental in Real Salt Lake winning its only MLS Cup in 2009, and reaching the MLS Cup Final in 2013.
The 38-year-old holds the MLS record for most appearances by a field player with 498. He also holds the league record for most games started (461) and minutes played (41,164) among field players.
Beckerman brought a tenacity and ferocious attitude rarely seen in the game. His competitive attitude rubbed off the RSL franchise, leading the team to seven consecutive playoff appearances.
“There aren’t words to describe the impact Kyle has had on our club, MLS, and this community,” said RSL general manager Eliot Fall. “When you think of Real Salt Lake, you think of Kyle Beckerman. He is a legend. There will never be another like him. This is the end of an era, but I’m sure the next chapter from Kyle will be special as well. That’s the kind of person he is.”
“Kyle is a great human being who doesn’t need or want the spotlight,” added RSL head coach Freddy Juarez. “He is selfless and always wanted what was best for the group. His work ethic is remarkable. Kyle gave his all every day at every training session. His smile, every time we had a 5v2, showed you the kid in him and the love he has for the game. As a coach, I’ve enjoyed every minute of watching him play, train and the leadership he displayed with the team. I am grateful for the example he set for our young players of hard work and determination. As a fan, I am grateful to Kyle for giving his heart to the sport and for being a remarkable human being off the pitch.”
In his 14 seasons with Real Salt Lake across all competitions, he amassed 410 appearances, 392 starts, 34 goals and 43 assists for the club.
During his tenure as captain, RSL won MLS Cup in 2009 and reached finals in the 2010-11 CONCACAF Champions League, 2013 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and 2013 MLS Cup. Beckerman was voted by his teammates as the club’s MVP four times – 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2016.
Although very few RSL fans got the opportunity to see Beckerman play his last game in person, Beckerman’s number 5 will almost certainly be retired at Rio Tinto Stadium sometime next season.