We here in Real Salt Lake land are a bit touchy sometimes about our players on international duty, and that's pretty normal. We're almost always convinced they're the right player for the job.
In the case of Kyle Beckerman, there's no use denying it. He's the right choice to start tonight against Mexico for a number of reasons.
1. He's better at what he does than anyone else on the roster
A pretty big chunk of you might be looking at Jermaine Jones and wondering if I'm crazy — I assure you, I'm probably not. But seriously, Beckerman excels as a deep-lying midfielder with responsibilities far beyond just ball-winning.
You can see this in how he pops up further up the field in possession just as much as you can when he drops between the two center backs to fight back against a high line of pressure.
Real Salt Lake's new look in 2015 initially seemed like it would be one that might not get the best out of Beckerman, and that thought persisted until Jeff Cassar actually sorted out the system.
With Luke Mulholland generally alongside him now — rather than strictly in front of him — he's adapted incredibly well to playing with a partner at defensive midfield, and he's recaptured what it is about his play that makes him an incredible player. It was certainly more than just his ability to be in the right place at the right time.
2. He commits tactical fouls seamlessly
Let's be clear about this: the U.S. is not necessarily built for facing this Mexico team. There's a degree of uncertainty (which perhaps we'll thrive in), but maybe this side is starting to sort themselves out.
When Mexico played at Rio Tinto Stadium recently, their movement was precise and effective in attack. While they hadn't sorted themselves out defensively, the number of options players regularly had because of that provided some true danger.
Kyle Beckerman helps to snuff out those chances with startling ease. He'll pull a player down, fall into a player, trip them — whatever it takes to break up play. He's great.
3. He's very rarely bad for the U.S.
Now, I know it's kind of a weird thing to talk about players rarely being bad for the national team as a good thing — they should basically never be bad, right? And that should be normal? — but Jurgen Klinsmann has a scary knack for sometimes getting the worst out of good players, and repeatedly playing them in ways that exacerbate their worse qualities.
Despite all that, he's only had one or two notably poor matches for the national team. That's something that stands out.