Imagine it. Flipping on the TV on an early fall Saturday morning and seeing those patented dreadlocks emerging out from beneath the tunnel in England or Italy or Germany or the Netherlands. It’s the reality of a post-World Cup environment, players who shine on the global stage will be seen by billions and some of those eyes have the power — and desire — to perhaps make moves to better their clubs worldwide.
The burning question: After starring in three World Cup matches against Ghana, Portugal and Germany, is Real Salt Lake captain Kyle Beckerman a sought-after defensive-minded entity for clubs outside Major League Soccer? I spoke to RSL general manager Garth Lagerwey an hour before RSL’s Fourth of July match against New England to see if the club has fielded any calls from clubs interested in prying Beckerman and his services from RSL.
"Nothing of substance," Lagerwey said. "To be clear, substance means a written offer because we have conversations about our players all the time. So no … but I think that’s more of a function of Kyle wanting to stay — or we think him wanting to stay — as opposed to a lack of recognition of his efforts."
Lagerwey said he didn’t expect many calls heading into the World Cup because Beckerman, the face of the franchise, didn’t start in the first two Send-Off Series matches in May. But when the 32-year-old RSL captain started against Nigeria in Jacksonville, Fla., it was clear Beckerman was part of Jurgen Klinsmann’s plans in Brazil.
Despite being one of the bright spots for the U.S. in the group stage, showcasing his ability to calm storms in front of a back line and distribute and build the base of an attack, Beckerman’s age, Lagerwey said, hampers the phone lines from burning up. Example: Seattle Sounders outside back DeAndre Yedlin has reportedly been courted by Serie A club AS Roma in the wake of his performances with the U.S. in Brazil. But the speedy wide option is 20.
"It’s age more than anything," Lagerwey said. "I would say 90 percent of the clubs around the world won’t sign guys over 30. Kyle’s 32."
The MLS transfer window opened Tuesday morning. On Friday I asked Lagerwey to describe how a transfer window and global market changes in a World Cup year.
"It throws it off," he said. "The reality is, in a World Cup year, countries whose teams are in the tournament aren’t doing anything. But as teams get knocked out … that means most of the world will be open for business basically at that point. The European transfer window will open a little bit later than normal because it opens immediately after the tournament, which doesn’t mean you’re going to do a lot of business, just as a practical matter when you’re looking at prices of players, prices of players tend to fall when the European teams are done doing their shopping."
And does RSL have plans to make some moves as the Western Conference continually tightens? Lagerwey said the club is "definitely exploring some stuff" with forward Alvaro Saborio out with a broken foot until at least September or maybe even October.
"I think our strategy will be driven always in terms of trying to find a value, but it’ll be driven too in terms of performance," Lagerwey said. "If at some point we conclude that it’s not getting better, then we’d have to do something to try and address that — and I hope we don’t get there."
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