Kyle Beckerman, Real Salt Lake's long-time captain entering his ninth year with the club, is, for the first time in his career, a designated player, and it's a plaudit and recognition he fully deserves.
Having signed a new three-year extension with the club during the offseason, Beckerman seems to have received an improved contract that puts him not over just the 2014 designated player mark ($387,500) but over the point at which the 2015 mark landed.
Although we don't know specifically what a designated player contract looks like in 2015, with MLS roster rules still unreleased, we can assume it's at least an increase in that way.
After joining in 2007, Beckerman very quickly became an undroppable piece of Jason Kreis's puzzle as he became not just a strong tackling midfielder, but a dynamic leader in the locker room. Alongside Javier Morales, Real Salt Lake's locker room hasn't been a publicly contentious place, and any personnel problems — as few as they've been — are quashed in short order.
His off-field contributions have been innumerable, and it's hard to imagine the "Team is the Star" mentality without a figure like him in there — he's humble, understated, and not looking for personal glory.
But beyond off-field, his on-field contributions are bigger still. Playing at the base of the midfield, whether it's the diamond Real Salt Lake deployed for so long or the newly formed 4-3-3, Beckerman's influence has been unmistakable. His ability to cover passing lanes, to read the game, and just when to leave his feet to make that crucial tackle are all characteristics that make him one of the best — if not the outright best — in his position across MLS.
He's not just good, though. He's also remarkably and utterly consistent in his play. He's somehow avoided major injury in the last decade, playing at least 25 games yearly (barring 2010, when he played 22) even while planting a flag in the national team camp that saw him called up for the 2014 World Cup for the United States.
And he was great there, too, playing fantastically well at the biggest tournament of them all and excelling against Germany, Portugal and Ghana — until US coach Jurgen Klinsmann dropped him for the Belgium game, the first knockout match. (We're not bitter.)
For these reasons and so many more, we're just tickled for Kyle Beckerman, Real Salt Lake's newest designated player. Long may he reign.