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With Javi out, Kyle Beckerman will be key against San Jose Earthquakes

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Jim Urquhart-USA TODAY Sports

It's just like the (increasingly obvious) headline says. Kyle Beckerman's going to be hugely important as we look to finally secure our playoff entrance for 2014, and given we can do it with a win on Saturday night, there's a huge impetus to simply get it out of the way.

Beckerman, as the captain, is responsible for a lot of things, but he's also not directly responsible for much. He's tasked with keeping a pulse on the locker room, being, well, the one people look toward for direction. But by the same token, he's also one of many in a locker room packed to the brim with MLS veterans — Nick Rimando, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert, Tony Beltran (despite his youth), Ned Grabavoy, Robbie Findley, and Javier Morales all make that list.

On Saturday, many of those players will be involved — Nick Rimando and Javier Morales on that list will be out. Some other players not involved are slightly less veteran — Alvaro Saborio, Chris Schuler, Joao Plata, Luis Gil — but still important. So, really, we'll have plenty of veteran presence to contend with.

Tactically, when Beckerman plays badly, we tend to struggle. We've formed our entire system around the defensive midfielder and Javier Morales. We've obviously adjusted and changed things over time in that regard, but they're probably the core pair dictating how we play. But we can also struggle when he plays acceptably, and that's especially apparent when we're playing sides like Chivas USA (or at least the Chivas USA we saw last week.)

He's asked to do creative work and defensive work in equal measure, and it's hard to think of players who are better suited for it. And with Javier Morales and Luis Gil both out, some of that playmaking we see from the playmaking spot will be absent. This leaves Beckerman to pick up the ball a bit, to spread things around, and to get into more advanced positions. This isn't because whoever plays in that top spot isn't good enough, but because they're not as good as our first-choice options.

As we push our midfield further into the attack, Beckerman's forced to switch rapidly between a sinewy, connective role and a defensive, resolute role. Transition play becomes where our play lives and where it dies, and it's Kyle Beckerman that's going to be vital there.

As usual.