Sandy • Jurgen Klinsmann will eventually settle into a seat Saturday evening in Sandy and see four players he’ll soon again be in charge of.
The coach of the U.S. men’s national team, who will be in attendance for Real Salt Lake’s match against Toronto FC at Rio Tinto Stadium Saturday, called in RSL captain Kyle Beckerman, goalkeeper Nick Rimando and midfielder Luis Gil to face Mexico in an international friendly on Tuesday, April 2, in Phoenix, Ariz. Klinsmann also tabbed USMNT star Michael Bradley, in his first season back in MLS with Toronto, for the match against Mexico at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.
RSL and Seattle Sounders (Clint Dempsey, DeAndre Yedlin, Brad Evans) are the only two MLS clubs to have at least three players among the 22 players called in ahead of the friendly.
“I say it all the time, but the reason we get called in is because of how we perform with our club,” Rimando said Wednesday. “It’s a stepping stone to get to the national team if you do well and it proves if you play well, your team does good, you’re going to have a chance at the national team. Credit Real Salt Lake for giving us an opportunity.”
“We’re producing some players, we’re starting to get recognized on the national level, but it call comes from the team,” Beckerman echoed. “I think if we weren’t a good team, it wouldn’t happen, so it’s a credit to a lot of our teammates, so when we go there, we’ll represent everybody.”
Beckerman, Rimando and Gil aim to further impress Klinsmann in the months soon turning to weeks ahead of the World Cup roster being announced sometime in May. All three RSL players spent a month training with the national team in January — which included a two week dry run at the World Cup this summer in Brazil — before defeating South Korea 2-0 in a friendly on Feb. 1.
Beckerman’s 34 caps with the USMNT is headlined by nine starts in 10 matches in 2013 with the national team, including starting in the 2-0 win over Mexico on Sept. 11, 2013, in Columbus, Ohio, when the U.S. beat El Tri to clinch a World Cup berth. Beckerman also won MVP honors in the 1-0 win over Panama in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final last summer.
“Always an honor, one I’m looking forward to always and it should be a challenge,” said Beckerman after training Wednesday. “It should be tough. I’m sure it’s going to be a packed crowd, so [Mexico] will be wanting to get one over us.”
Rimando remains undefeated at the national team level when starting in-between goal for the U.S., and posted a 6-0-0 record in 2013. Called in with fellow MLS goalkeepers Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire) and Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Rimando is expected to get the starting nod against Mexico Tuesday in Arizona.
“It’s going to be a great atmosphere,” Rimando said. “I’ve seen it plenty of times when the U.S. has out-fanned Mexico in Columbus and other parts. We expect a fantastic crowd and obviously it’s another opportunity to show Jurgen that you belong on the [World Cup] roster.”
It’s definitely another chance for 20-year-old Luis Gil, who made his national team debut in that 2-0 win over South Korea in the 75th minute on Feb. 1.
“It’s going to be crazy,” Gil said Wednesday. “It’s going to be a great feeling for me to be out there, whether I get some minutes or not — just being in that atmosphere and that experience is going to be a great opportunity for me.”
Gil said having Klinsmann at Rio Tinto Saturday night will certainly add to the hype of an already-talked about matchup between RSL and the revamped TFC side with Bradley, Jermain Defoe, Gilberto and Julio Cesar.
“You always want to show a little bit more to [Klinsmann],” Gil said, “but I just feel like I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do and that’s what I feel like he’s calling me up for, is the way I play, so I don’t want to change or do anything special.”
Rimando said having become a regular call-up by Klinsmann — especially in the years and months ahead of a World Cup — is motivation for himself and Beckerman.
“[Klinsmann’s] the guy that you want on your side, someone who’s a great motivator and someone who’s played on that level before,” Rimando said. “Whatever he says you take in and you try to do what he likes, what he wants and to be a leader out there, like he was. To have him continuously call us in gives us the confidence to go in there and be leaders with that team as well as Real Salt Lake.”
When asked for predictions for Tuesday’s clash in the desert, Rimando laughed.
“No predictions from me,” he said.
U.S. roster for friendly vs. Mexico on Tuesday
Goalkeepers • Nick Rimando (RSL), Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire)
Defenders • DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Matt Besler (SKC), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders), Omar Gonzalez (L.A. Galaxy), Clarence Goodson (San Jose), Michael Orozco (Puebla), Michael Parkhurst (Columbus Crew), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders)
Midfielders • Kyle Beckerman (RSL), Michael Bradley (TFC), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Landon Donovan (L.A. Galaxy), Maurice Edu (Philadelphia Union), Luis Gil (RSL), Graham Zusi (SKC)
Forwards • Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Eddie Johnson (D.C. United), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose)