By Kevin Koczwara
The 2009 season was a dream come true for Kyle Beckerman and Real Salt Lake. The team snuck into the MLS Cup playoffs as the last team to qualify. RSL had to go through Supporter’s Shield winners, (awarded to the best team of the regular season) Columbus Crew, to start. The team did that and made it all the way to the MLS Cup final where Beckerman and company had to take on the heavily favored Los Angeles Galaxy with American soccer icon Landon Donovan and English import, and tabloid favorite, David Beckham.
Beckerman lead the charge against the Galaxy as the captain of Salt Lake. Real went onto surprise just about everyone, beating the titanic duo of Beckham and Donovan, claiming the team’s first piece of silverware in club history.
Since the historic win, Real Salt Lake hasn’t looked back. The team finished second to Los Angeles in the MLS regular season with 56 points (15-4-11) and a record for fewest goals allowed in a season with 20 goals allowed in 30 games – a staggering .66 goals against average – and became the first North American soccer team to win its group in the CONCACAF Champions League group stage.
“The biggest thing was it [the playoffs last year] helped us turn the corner for road games. That was our biggest problem in the past few years and is why we struggled to get into the playoffs [last season],” said Beckerman. “It was the road form, once we did that [started winning on the road] we turned a corner. We really grew up in the playoffs last year and we were able to get the results in the playoffs. We have transferred that into this season, and we haven’t stopped. Now, we defend better and we’re more mature as a team.”