Tonight's match against Mexico is one of those matches that are ostensibly "friendly" but rarely end up anything but (though one might wonder if, with the U.S. rescuing Mexico's World Cup hopes during qualification, that changes slightly.) Real Salt Lake has four players there, and we're certain to see how that influence pays off.
Nick Rimando is normally the United States' third-string goalkeeper, but there's little question that he's first-choice among the MLS contingent. With the World Cup only a scant few months away, Rimando will be wanting to prove he can perform when asked to start — he's not likely to during the tournament, but stranger things certainly have happened.
Kyle Beckerman is another sure-starter, and as one of those players you'd peg to go to Brazil, he'll want to show Jurgen Klinsmann that he's not just a safe bench player. It's important that in these matches, Beckerman above others, shows his veteran attitude. It's more than just a platitude — this is an exciting match, and somebody has to guide the team through.
Luis Gil needs to have a good game for a fairly obvious reason: He wants to go to the World Cup. And not in 2018 — he will want to go in 2014. I mean, he's a good kid, and if he doesn't make it, I don't imagine he'll implode or anything ridiculous like that, but he's on the cusp of it, and that's pretty remarkable. He's been fantastic in his last few matches for Real Salt Lake, and continuing that form will be important for his chances.
And now, Tony Beltran, having just made the team, has an opportunity to show his worth. The only other natural right back on the team is DeAndre Yedlin, who has some skill, sure. Beltran, I maintain, is a better defender by a country mile. Could he make the final World Cup squad? It's doubtful, but a good performance in this match boosts his chances slightly.
The best part, though? A healthy Chris Schuler could play himself into World Cup contention, too. He may not have been called up for this one — the roster was released while he was injured, or only just coming back from injury — but he has a future at the national level. How soon might we see it?