In a Q & A on the U.S. Soccer website, U.S. men’s national coach Jurgen Klinsmann was quoted as saying: "The door remains open until the very last day."
Translation: Plane seats to Brazil in June are still very much up for grabs.
And while the official U.S. roster for this summer’s World Cup in the soccer Mecca comes in May, Real Salt Lake could see an exodus of talent off its roster. Forward Alvaro Saborio is a no-doubter for Costa Rica as the Ticos are Brazil-bound and Nick Rimando and Kyle Beckerman have proven themselves in international play with the USMNT over the last year.
A name that has to be tossed in is 20-year-old Luis Gil, coming off the best season of his career, and earning his first cap with the senior team on Feb. 1 in a 2-0 win over South Korea in Carson, Calif. At Tuesday’s Media Day, RSL GM Garth Lagerwey was extremely complimentary of the youngster, saying he believes Gil could work his way further into the national team picture.
Beckerman, who went 90 against the Koreans last Saturday, said seeing Gil’s rapid rise is important.
"I was extremely happy for Luis," Beckerman said. "I’ve seen him grow and become a better player each year and he’s learned and he’s kept improving, and so to finally see him get a chance with the national team is great. Everybody’s got to start somewhere, and usually that is in a friendly. I think he came on and showed that he wasn’t fazed at all and he does what Luis does: He acts way older than he is."
Gil said the moment is one he’ll obviously savor. Appreciative of the opportunity, adding not many 20-year-old Americans get their first senior-team cap at such a young age.
"It was a great feeling to step on that field with the men’s national team, not the youth anymore," he said. "It was a great accomplishment and very humbling for me."
Said Klinsmann in the Q & A of Gil and Seattle fullback DeAndre Yedlin: "That’s why we gave them their first cap, their first couple of minutes on the field with the so-called older guys. They have a lot of talent, there’s no doubt about it. That’s why they played in the Under-20 World Cup with Tab Ramos. I’ve spoken to both of them about keeping their feet on the ground, that they stay modest but be proud of that moment because it’s a special moment when you play your first cap. This is just the beginning of a very good career, and we need them to push the envelope with their MLS teams, we need them to understand there’s more responsibility on their shoulders as a senior national team player."
The RSL trio spent a month training in Klinsmann’s national team camp, which began in Southern California the first week of January and continued in Sau Paulo, Brazil, in a "dry run" at the World Cup in June. Rimando said the weather hot, adding that the facilities, training fields and people were above par.
As for the biggest reward of the camp? He said beating a team that will be in Brazil this summer. Hard to argue, considering Rimando is now 10-0 starting for the USMNT with four recorded shutouts.
Beckerman said the short off-season will be a benefit to him considering it’s a World Cup year, which enabled him to remain in top shape for RSL’s season and international friendlies and training camps throughout the beginning of 2014.
So what happens for the RSL trio waiting — and hoping — between now and May?
"Just got to keep plugging and keep plugging and hopefully that call comes," Beckerman said.
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