RSL 'a victim of our own success' when it comes to call-ups
The call-ups over the yearsÂ have started to bleed together for RSL coach Jason Kreis.
If it wasn't Nick Rimando heading off with the U.S. team, it was Will Johnson and Canada, Alvaro Saborio and Costa Rica, Jean Alexandre and Haiti.
But this year, international duty has hit Real Salt Lake particularly hard. Between World Cup qualifiers, the Gold Cup and the U-20 World Cup, RSL has lost six players for a total of 27 league games more than any other club so far this year, with more call-ups undoubtedly coming in the fall.
"That's obviously bad because we want to be able to put our best foot forward as often as we can, and go for as many points as we can in the league," Kreis said. "But it's good too because it gets players opportunities, and it means we're doing something right, doesn't it? If we have players being called up to their national teams and to All-Star games, then we're a victim of our own success at some point."
The Gold Cup, an international tournament made up of teams from North and Central America and the Carribean, cost RSL four key players for most of last month. RSL went 1-2-1 in July, with Saborio missing all but one of those matches and Rimando, Kyle Beckerman and Tony Beltran missing out entirely.
Saborio returned to action last week, netting a hat trick in a 4-3 loss at New York. Beckerman and Rimando, meanwhile, saw their first time with the club in more than a month Saturday against Colorado. Beltran missed the match while serving a suspension.
"It was tough," Beckerman said. "I think we were really rolling at the point where we had to take off, but that's just where we're at right now with the MLS. They don't want to take a break during international duty. But I think we have a deep team and we did well. If it wasn't for some unlucky stuff, we probably should have won all four. We'll just pick up where we left off."
For Beckerman and Rimando in particular, the Gold Cup tournament was a chance to better position themselves for a spot on the United States' World Cup roster next year in Brazil.
"A lot of us are on the edge of making that team and going to the World Cup next year," Rimando said. "We wanted to prove a point and just show [U.S. coach] Jurgen [Klinsmann] we can play at that level."
How they play as they return to their club will be critical in securing a spot, too.
Klinsmann "always stresses that it's very important how we do when we come back to our clubs, to continue to play, be consistent, be leaders on our team," Rimando said.
Lifting the Gold Cup following a 1-0 win over Panama late last month was gratifying, but Beckerman, Rimando and Beltran all expressed their joy to return to Real Salt Lake.
"I missed my team," Beltran said.
Alvaro Saborio, Costa Rica •Â 6
Nick Rimando, United States • 5
Kyle Beckerman, United States • 5
Luis Gil, U.S. Under-20s • 5
Tony Beltran, United States • 4
Abdoulie Mansally, Gambia • 2