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Q&A with Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando in Brazil

Published June 30, 2014 5:45 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Real Salt Lake captain Kyle Beckerman and goalkeeper Nick Rimando jumped on a conference call with the Salt Lake City media Monday morning to talk about their respective World Cup experiences so far in Brazil. While the 32-year-old Beckerman has started in each match thus far, going 90 minutes in all three outings, Rimando — who turned 35 in Brazil — has served more as an asset in training and giving tips to teammates in practice and on game days. Below is the breakdown of questions and answers from Beckerman and Rimando. There were some cracks during the combined 25 minutes between the two RSL stars, so please welcome ellipses for direct quotes.

Kyle Beckerman's Q&A with SLC media

Have you had time to take a step back and look at what has transpired down in Brazil?

"Not at all. Just been so dialed in and really just staying focused and the games have come so fast that there's really no time to look back. It's play one game, then recover as quickly as possible and get ready for the next one. Seems like it's just going to continue that way. It really has gone so fast. I remember the last game before thinking this could be the end of the trip if we don't get out and it just came so quickly."

What's been the biggest revelation to you about this team?

"I guess the biggest thing would be get to know some of the guy's personal life and things like that, which I think ultimately makes us closer on the field as well. We've been together now five, six weeks or so, been in camp with before many times, but maybe haven't had a chance or time to sit down and talk. Mainly hang around and play cards and stuff. Just really gotten to know players … in terms of soccer, the main thing we knew were going to have to do, we were going to have to battle, we were going to have to fight for one another and that was going to have to be top notch if we were going to have a chance. That just kind of confirmed what I thought we'd have already."

Have you been noticing the wealth of attention you've had from outlets in the U.S.?

"We hear from some of the Americans that we see in the hotels and stuff and they remind us and kind of let us know that it's kind of crazy back in the states. That everybody has really going nuts for these World Cup games. We see some pictures, read some articles and sounds like it's just been we've got the soccer fever or something, which is great to hear. We don't really know exactly how it is, but it sounds really exciting and we're just excited to keep it going."

What's the World Cup experience like that as a player?

"He's actually done a really good job of scheduling practice when he can so we can watch the games. Like today we had practice this morning so we were able to get back. There's been a couple games that we have missed, but for the most part we've been watching pretty much all the games. It's been great. I think [Klinsmann] wants us to watch, so the more games we watch, the better. Just kind of gives you an idea of what's happening, maybe prepares us a little bit more to help to see how other games are going to see a team playing where you're going to be playing. Jurgen's done a really good job of letting us watch."

Thoughts on the CONCACAF-heavy day Sunday?

"I just thought so far we've been showing really well for the region. Mexico played toe-to-toe with one of the favorites of the tournament, Costa Rica's doing really well and I think it shows. "Now it's our turn to try and hold the flag up for CONCACAF. Think it's awesome for our region, think it's going to go a long way for individual players and for a possible extra slot in the future."

Has reality of playing in a World Cup lived up to the dream?

"It has. It's been so much fun. I've enjoyed every day, practice, games have been so intense. Our goal was to be able to get out of the group, we were able to do that, so far it's just been an unbelievable experience. I guess right now I'm in it, so it's hard to take in as much as its been so far, but so far it's been a blast and I just want to keep it going, see if we can get past Belgium tomorrow and then go to the next one, because it's been a lot of fun."

How long before games are you notified that you're starting?

"We go over some things in practice and you can kind of get an idea. Nobody knows for sure until we have our pre-game meeting before the day of the game. That's when you know for sure. Before that it's all what goes on in practice. As players, you read into practice and we see what's going on, see who's on your team and things like that. That gives you a good idea."

Is there something tactically the U.S. needs to do particularly well against Belgium?

"The way we look at it, it's lining up almost what would be three games in a row with teams playing the same sort of formation. You've got dynamic players in Portugal, Germany and now Belgium. A lot of it is going to be similar … Not let them come through the middle, give tight to guys and when we get it, be sharp and break with some pace and then it's all about making the right decisions in the final third. Each game we try and keep improving on that and hopefully we can improve on that as well."

Does the travel in Brazil feel something like travel for CONCACAF, MLS? Has it prepared the American players a little better for the grind you're going through right now?

"Absolutely. Not only CONCACAF, but regular season. If you look at that Seattle to Columbus and back to Salt Lake for those weeks, that's just in MLS. It's been really similar here. For in-between Ghana and Portugal, it was come back to Sao Paulo, have a day there and then fly out the next day and it was pretty much we got an extra day after the Germany game. You're talking two days and then you're back on a plane. It's something that's not too unfamiliar to MLS guys and even the guys in Europe because they've been flying and playing in the qualifiers earlier and playing quite a bit. I think it has helped and also a lot of times we're going to these places with the heat and the humidity. It didn't really faze us too much. Of course it's hot and humid, it's tough to play, but it's helped us that way before. When you get off a plane in Dallas or in Houston or the East Coast, that was kind of the feeling that we had when we got to Manaus or when we got to some of these places and you feel like, 'Alright, it's not really as bad as Houston.' It kind of gives you a little mental boost there and say, 'OK, we've done this before and we've performed well.' It's not the deal a lot of some of these other teams, it's truly catching them off guard and their bodies aren't able to handle it."

How have you found on the field — and even away from the field — the respect for U.S. soccer?

"I definitely think we're gaining the respect each time we do well in the World Cup. It's helped us big time. I think we're excited for CONCACAF doing well in the tournament because we feel like the Europeans and some regions, they don't really respect how we have to get to the World Cup. When CONCACAF does well it kind of shows … they get a different perspective on what we have to do. As for us, I think we still have that underdog deal and teams go in as favorites against us, but I think these teams are now realizing that it's going to be a fight, that it's going to be a tough game and it's not going to be a rollover and that they have to respect us. When you get results against some of the top teams, that respect goes higher and higher. We've got to just continue to do it and the best place to earn that respect is in the World Cup."

Does any of that extend to MLS?

"Yeah, I think so. Definitely, I'm sure teams are looking at the team and when we do well, they're looking at where the players are playing and it helps our league, absolutely. It's just going to continue to get bigger and bigger and the respect for our league is going to keep going up. The league's getting better each year and players we're producing are getting better each year and ultimately it's going to get more players in MLS on World Cup teams for different countries on their nation's different national teams."

Has there been something specific that has lent to your success alongside Jermaine Jones in this World Cup?

"I always feel like I could play with anybody. I feel like it doesn't matter. No matter who it is, I'm going to try and make that player have his best game and just trying to help that guy near me. I think we played together a couple times before and we've got results. I think in Jurgen's mind, I think that he always thought we could play together. It just didn't happen a ton of times, but there were some important games, the Mexico game in Columbus that we played together and were able to get a win … I just think it doesn't matter. I'm going to be a player that helps the guys around me, it doesn't matter who it is. I feel like I can play with them."

Nick Rimando's Q&A with SLC media

What have you seen in terms of the back line being able to piece together performances when throwing different center backs in a World Cup?

"It's tough to say when I'm not playing behind them during a game. As far as trainings go, they're a big presence, whether it's Omar in there or Cameron or Besler, they're great in the air. They all know their individual qualities. But now it's a different scenario right, where we're in a scenario we lose, we go home. We have to organized, we have to be tight, we have to be on the same page in the back. If they need help out, then the No. 6 [role] can help out, Beckerman could be our biggest weapon."

What kind of role are you playing down there?

"This third spot is no joke, really. I'm always putting in work. Guys are constantly needing extra work on the field, after practice, shots, crosses — that's me jumping in and being available. It's keeping the morale high, it's being positive, it's kind of just making sure everybody is moving in the right direction and moving forward and nobody is never down when they're not playing and down about a result, a bad practice. It's keeping the morale up and keeping smiles on faces and making sure is moving forward."

What's it like to see Kyle emerge at this level?

"It's great to see Kyle in and out for years now, seeing what he puts in on the field and off the field, it's special to see him on the field here on the biggest stage to show his qualities against the best players and succeed at it. I think he's had a great World Cup so far. He's been a big part of why we're moving onto the next stage. To see him move his skill and competitiveness to the next level is special, and it's special to be here with him and to go through it with him to see his reactions after the game and before the game, he's just a complete pro. I couldn't be happier for him."

In terms of his personality, he's kind of blowing up here in the States. Have you heard anything about that?

"Here and there, you see on Twitter or Facebook. But Kyle's Kyle. He's not going to change. He's one of those players and people that are so humble and don't really look into those things — if there's bad things about him, he won't look into him, if there's good things about him, he's a player that always keeps a steady mind and a humble head and just goes out there and does his work. It's good to see him get recognition because he's been deserving of that for a long time now."

What did you make of seeing seven MLS players starting against Germany?

"To see how far our league has come and to see how many players are on the field in the Germany game, the MLS players had impact during the [World Cup] qualifications. In the Ghana game and the Portugal game, to see that we have a big impact on the men's national team today and going forward, it's just huge. I think anybody that plays in MLS that's on this team takes complete pride in that and know that we have a competitive league that gets good players in it and it's continuing to get better each year."

Seems like anytime something good happens, you and Jurgen are the first two to celebrate. Has that become second nature?

"That first goal against Ghana was with Dempsey, I wasn't there. Jurgen's up and down the sideline. To happen at the end and everybody was up and near and once that goal happened, you kind of just go with the flow. I saw him and then he saw me and we kinda let things go, I guess. I don't know if it's an every time thing, but it's weird to me to kind of react to players around. I'm usually on the field and I'm alone when my team scores and kind of just celebrate by myself, so kind of just seeing some players around me was a bit different, but I could see myself doing that a couple more times, hopefully."

Have you been able follow RSL that closely down in Brazil?

"To be completely honest, my focus is here, but yeah, I have an eye on Real Salt Lake. That's my team, those are my brothers out there and I pay attention to the results. What's happening on the days off, what's happening in training, I chat with Ned, Nat, Jeff Attinella … text them to try and see what's going on back there and make sure everything's good. But like I said, my focus is here and trying to get results here."

It was just announced on Twitter that Jozy Altidore would be available for the Belgium game. How would he make this team and this attack more dynamic against Belgium?

"I think we all know the importance of what Jozy brings to our team. He's a big forward, fights for balls, his speed, his accuracy to goal on shots … to bring him back now is great for this team, it's great morale for the team to have everybody healthy and more options up front. Jozy's been working hard ever since his injury. To have him available would be great for our team."

What has the experience in Brazil been like so far?

"I think just everything together. This country is a soccer country. You just feel it in the air that the World Cup's here. The stadiums that we play in, the atmosphere on the streets, you know when Brazil's playing because nobody's in the streets — it's a ghost town. The respect we get from the locals here, flying to each stadium, it's just, for me, stands as the highest of highs for me. It's something I'll never forget and hopefully it's going to last longer and the moments on the field. If one thing, I get out of this most memorable is getting out of this group stage where a lot of people doubted us; us coming together and believing in ourselves. Getting out the Group of Death, it's something special at the World Cup."

Don't forget, there will be two USA-Belgium watch parties in downtown Salt Lake City Tuesday: The Gallivan Center Plaza is hosting at 2 p.m. as is EnergySolutions Arena. Both are free to the public.

-Chris Kamrani

Twitter: @chriskamrani