Sandy • That month pinging around Brazil, the hotbed of soccer, is reality to so few around the world, but couldn’t have been more real to Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando.
They’re back with Real Salt Lake after being away from the club since May 14, and 36 hours or so after landing at Salt Lake International Airport, they went 90 minutes in a 2-1 Fourth of July win that produced a much-needed three points.
RSL at L.A. GalaxySaturday, 8:30 p.m.
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The taxing toll of the last two months didn’t hamper performance, but the lingering emotions of being able to represent a country and a club and everything in between are hard to replicate. The mountain-top has now been summited for the two faces of the RSL franchise, who have been with the club since 2007.
Beckerman threw his arms up in celebration when Clint Dempsey’s magical moment produced a goal 34 seconds into the opener against Ghana, and Rimando was in similar elation celebrating with U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann. Those were just a few highlights of the days that will never be forgotten.
Things change in a flash, and lifelong achievements will be fully processed in the near future, but for now, both are primed to help their club rattle off a positive run as the grueling season slowly enters the dog days of summer.
"I just think it’s good for the vibe of the locker room to have everybody back," Beckerman said. "I feel like we’re all locked and loaded."
With a crucial clash looming against the L.A. Galaxy in Carson, Calif., on Saturday, the emphasis of the return of the two RSL leaders has been to carve out time for rest and proper maintaining of fitness, whether it be in training sessions or at Rio Tinto Stadium.
"I gave them both the option to have as much time as they needed," RSL coach Jeff Cassar said.
Beckerman was a regular at training throughout the week, while Rimando’s first official day back was Thursday after Cassar said the 35-year-old goalkeeper had gone through various fitness and exercise work at Rio Tinto earlier this week. Their return is a significant boost, as the club wiggled back on track after going nearly two months without a win. Still, it’s hard to quantify exactly what the adventure in Brazil was like — unless you were there.
"To hear the buzz that [the World Cup] had around here, not only in Salt Lake, but around the country, I think we opened some eyes to new soccer fans, for sure," Rimando said after the win. "I think us getting notoriety among other players in the World Cup and Major League Soccer is going to go up."
Currently reveling in his own World Cup euphoria, midfielder Javier Morales gets to watch his Argentina face Germany in the World Cup final Sunday afternoon. The RSL attacker just cracked a smile when asked how it feels to have his two friends back in an important time.
"You see them," Morales said, "and they are Real Salt Lake."
The uncertainty of their return is over with. They went to Brazil and punctuated their decades of work as World Cup representatives. They’re back now, sleeping comfortably in their own beds, spending time with their families and focused on the now.
"The whole experience," Beckerman said, "was a lot to take in, and I think I’m still kind of processing it."
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