The world’s sport takes the world’s stage next week when World Cup play begins in Brazil.
Played every four years, the World Cup is the most-watched and admired sporting event on the planet. This year, Anne Arundel County has a favorite son in the play. Crofton-raised Kyle Beckerman, a 31-year-old defensive midfielder for the United States Men’s National Team and captain of Real Salt Lake, prepares to lace up his cleats and play for all the world to see.
Bay Weekly checked in with Beckerman last November [www.bayweekly.com/node/19763], when he had just finished solid performances for the United States in the 2013 Gold Cup and the World Cup Qualification Tournament and was captaining a great Real Salt Lake Major League Soccer team. Since then, Beckerman’s Real Salt Lake reached the MLS Championship game in December. On May 22, Beckerman was named as a starter on coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s final 23-man roster to represent the United States in the World Cup.
Crofton is swelling with pride for the Arundel High School alum.
“Sure, Crofton may have Edward Snowden, but now we’ve got Kyle Beckerman to even it out. It’s so inspiring that he’s from my hometown,” says 18-year-old Patrick Russo, a life-long Crofton resident.
“He is so awesome. I just ordered my little brother a Beckerman USA jersey as a graduation gift so he’ll be ‘repping Crofton all World Cup,” says Devin Garcia, local soccer fanatic.
Despite hometown support, Beckerman and company will have a troublesome path to success, after being placed in what fans are calling the tournament’s Group of Death along with Ghana, Portugal and Germany. Only two of the four teams will move on to the next “knockout” stage.
Portugal, ranked fourth in the world, claims the world’s greatest player in the 29-year old phenom, Cristiano Ronaldo, recently voted this year’s FIFA Footballer of the Year.
Second-ranked Germany, the 2010 World Cup runner up, is arguably the most well-rounded and feared team in the world.
Ghana, while ranked just 37th in the world, could hold more bad news for the Yanks. In the previous two World Cups, the United States’ fate was dictated both times in dramatic, controversial losses to Ghana. Will history repeat itself? Or will the third time be the charm for the Red, White and Blue?
Doubters include even the American coach. In an interview with The New York Times, Klinsmann said that the U.S. “cannot win this World Cup.”
“He’s wrong,” contests Russo. “That’s what everyone said about the 1980 USA hockey team. Then the Miracle On Ice happened.”
As sure as Patrick Russo is, America’s World Cup destiny won’t be known until the games begin on Thursday, June 12. Then Crofton, Anne Arundel County and all of America will watch as Kyle Beckerman and the United States National Team face off on the world’s greatest, most prestigious stage, the 2014 Brazil World Cup.