A handful of fans were waiting for Nick Rimando and Kyle Beckerman as they descended the escalator at Salt Lake International Airport on Wednesday afternoon after a win over Mexico the night before to clinch the U.S.’s spot in the World Cup.
With any luck, a few more will be there to send the two off to Brazil next year.
Rimando seems to have locked down the country’s third goalkeeper spot.
But with Michael Bradley out with an injury Tuesday, Beckerman put in a 90-minute shift that earned praise for teammates and reporters, and may have helped punch his ticket to the Cup.
“Every time you go into camp and you have an opportunity to show your skills and impress [U.S. coach Jurgen] Klinsmann, it’s another step in the right direction, toward going to Brazil,” said Rimando. “I think Kyle again showed why he deserves to be on this team.”
Beckerman, meanwhile, said a roster spot is never a sure thing.
“I never feel like it’s cemented,” he said. “The team is always a work in progress. So much can happen in six months or nine months, however far it is. You just have to stay ready, stay healthy and stay playing good soccer. That’s all you can do until the end comes.”
Beckerman said qualifying for Brazil early was a “relief” for the Americans.
The win was the third time in three World Cup cycles the U.S. has beaten Mexico 2-0 in Columbus, Ohio. The “dos a cero” result was sealed when forward Clint Dempsey missed a stoppage-time penalty kick wide right. Dempsey’s miss helped build the lore around the U.S.-Mexico rivalry, but Rimando laughed off the possibility that it was intentional.
“No, come on, man,” he said when I asked him about the kick. “There’s money on the line for that. You don’t miss those on purpose.”