Having played without Kyle Beckerman for the last long while (five matches, actually) — international duty and whatnot getting in the way of things — it's created a bit of a stir that Real Salt Lake has been winning matches.
That's more than a little surprising to me. Not the winning — I get that. It's the weird question (and ensuing implication) that's cropped up that throws me for a loop. That implication? That Real Salt Lake is somehow better off with Kyle Beckerman not playing.
To that, I can only shake my head — and, of course, argue against.
We can't have this conversation without talking about Luke Mulholland, and that's probably a good place to start. Mulholland has been a somewhat divisive figure this season, with some very good play — he's confident on the ball and whatnot — but also with some passing that leaves much to be desired.
Mulholland's pass accuracy rate is somewhere below 70 percent, which seems very, very low for a player that's trying to play the Kyle Beckerman role. And you know what? That was fine. Mulholland did his best approximation of Beckerman, and while he missed that key point, he was usually in the right places at the right times, and he did his best to read passing lanes and cut off options.
In that way, Mulholland did probably better than I expected. His passing rate was something to work on, certainly, but he still deserves recognition for that part of his game.
And now Kyle Beckerman's back, and we're almost certainly in a better position. Beckerman does well the things Mulholland did well, and he also does a whole lot more. That's not a surprise, and it's not a slight against anyone. Kyle Beckerman is one of the best midfielders in MLS, and I think that can be said without an ounce of exaggeration.
As Real Salt Lake looks to continue their good run of form, getting Beckerman in there would make everything a little bit easier. By building possession in a sane, reliable way, he makes the jobs of the players in front of him volumes easier. That sort of play allows for more chances and more options in the attack in general, because players can commit to attacking runs they might not otherwise be able to.
And for you Mulholland-lovers, don't expect him to sit as a result of Beckerman's starting. After all — there's another midfield position just waiting for him (and it's not Javier Morales's, so don't start.)