Few — if any — players have been more important to Real Salt Lake in its history than Kyle Beckerman.
The club's captain wasn't quite an ever-present in 2013 - international duty prevented that - but his impact continued apace. With four goals and six assists, his ten-goal contribution was bested only by his mark in 2011, when he was tasked with even more playmaking duties than before in the absence of Javier Morales.
2013 saw Beckerman pushed into positions further up the pitch as Real Salt Lake searched for more effective goalscoring from all areas of the pitch. That being the case, Beckerman's seeming retreat from the purely anchor man position was a tactically profound one for his effectiveness, and he never looked out of his depth.
Kyle Beckerman may be a defensive midfielder by trade, but his skill set allows him to play in more advanced positions. The most important attribute he has is the one that guides when he's in those more advanced positions, and when he tactically remains less adventurous. Being wary of the risks that emerge when he's further forward is huge, and 2013 was a showcase of that.
He also get himself behind a few important goals for us - two in a 4-0 win over Columbus and one in a 2-0 win over Seattle (as well as one in a 2-3 loss to Montreal, but let's not go there) - with the goal against Seattle being one of his prettiest for the club.
We missed Beckerman for unfortunate swathes of time, as he was an easy pick for Jurgen Klinsmann's Gold Cup squad, and he was involved with World Cup Qualifiers - successfully, one might add. He's in line for a 2014 World Cup squad spot, and all indications would seem to be that he's going to be there. We will again miss him for some time, but almost certainly less time than last year.
Aside from aiming for a World Cup spot, Beckerman will also be focused on aiding the team as they push forward without long-time coach Jason Kreis. We've gone over that time and time again, but Beckerman's unmistakable influence as captain will be vital as we aim for a smooth, seamless transition between Kreis and Jeff Cassar.
Editor's note: This is part of a series of player profiles recapping the 2013 season and previewing the 2014 season. Player ratings were compiled via a vote by RSL Soapbox writers. Statistics are via mlssoccer.com.