Sandy • The season can’t be over, we’re just getting started.
That thought had crossed Kyle Beckerman’s mind at the end of 2007, one year before RSL made its first-ever playoff appearance and two years before the team won the MLS Cup and what would would become a seven-year playoff run.
A decade later, Beckerman had the same exact thought, after RSL missed the playoffs by a single point on the final day of 2017 season. But paired with the disappointment was excitement, both about how the team was rebuilding with a new, younger core, and where new coach Mike Petke might take it with a full season under his belt.
All that was missing? New contracts for Beckerman and goalkeeper Nick Rimando, who have been the twin pillars for RSL for a decade. The two veterans each joined RSL during that embryonic 2007 season, and both became free agents after the end of last season.
However, that, too, is in the process of being taken care of.
RSL announced Tuesday that it has re-signed Beckerman to a multi-year contract, and a league source confirmed to The Salt Lake Tribune that Rimando has agreed in to a new deal — first reported by goal.com — though he has yet to sign the contract.
Assuming he does, the agreements will keep 35-year-old Beckerman and 38-year-old Rimando together for at least one more season.
“I don’t know details, but I’m hopeful that it’s going to be done pretty shortly and we can just get ready for preseason,” he said of Rimando during a media availability on Tuesday. “Hopefully everything’s almost done and, just, you guys haven’t heard about it.”
The team did not disclose the terms of Beckerman’s contract, which Real Salt Lake and its captain began negotiating before the end of the last season. But both sides are happy with the outcome.
“I cannot imagine an RSL team next year without Kyle here,” Petke said in a statement. “Without Kyle with the armband on. Without Kyle leading the charge. I think that he is iconic here in Salt Lake. I think that he is one of the best players in the history of this league. And I think he deserves and will earn anything that he gets. As far as him, there will be a statue here of Kyle one day. It’s a no-brainer that Kyle is back. I couldn’t do this without him.”
The veteran holding midfielder, who has spent already spent 18 seasons in the league, leads all MLS field players in all-time minutes (36,017) and was the first field player to break the 400-games-played mark.
Rimando, who also has played 18 seasons, owns the MLS record for career shutouts (137) and has made 1,527 saves. He recorded eight shutouts and 73 saves last season, showing relatively little drop-off in the skills that have made him one of the greatest goalkeeper in MLS history.
Beckerman arrived in Utah just two months after then-RSL owner Dave Checketts hired Jason Kreis as head coach, essentially pulling him off the active roster to do so.
“We had a feeling that this blank canvas, we can go ahead and paint this thing as a champion,” Beckerman told The Tribune. “The city and the state are just ready for us to be a winner, and we’ve just got to do it.”
Beginning in 2008, RSL made the playoffs for seven years in a row, and its fiery captain (the all-time MLS foul leader with 654) and gravity-defying goalkeeper (51 penalty kick goals in 81 attempts) became quick fan favorites.
Beckerman and Rimando led their team to the 2008 Western Conference final in its first-ever playoff berth and to an MLS Cup victory the next season. Real Salt Lake again advanced to the Cup in 2013, but lost to Sporting Kansas City in a 10-round penalty kick shootout.
At the same time, both found success on the international stage, including call-ups to the United States National Team for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
“I’m a testament that you can play for Real Salt Lake, and if your dreams are to play in the World Cup, you can do it,” said Beckerman, who has earned 58 caps for the United States National team. “You can be right here in Salt Lake, playing for Real Salt Lake, and you can go play against the world’s best.”
Another RSL rebuild began last year with the hiring of Petke, and, after a slow start, his young team responded and made a serious playoff run before falling short on the final weekend of the season. When Beckerman signed his new contract, he committed to leading RSL into this new stage as well.
“The similarities are just the way we ended,” Beckerman said. “... In 2007 we beat Colorado, kept them out of the playoffs, we won the Rocky Mountain Cup. And then the differences would be we’re just a bit ahead of [where we were] in 2007. ... We have the players.”
Rimando was not made available for comment on Tuesday.
Position • Midfielder
Age • 35
Hometown • Crofton, Md.
Seasons in the league • 18
Seasons with RSL • 10.5
2017 stats • 26 starts, 4 goals
Career stats (regular season) • 40 goals, 49 assists.
Position • Goalkeeper
Age • 38
Hometown • Montclair, Ca.
Seasons in the league • 18
Seasons with RSL • 11
2017 stats • 8 shutouts, 73 saves
Career stats (regular season) • 137 shutouts, 1,527 saves.