Riding the Beckerman Express
Area soccer youth draw inspiration from local star
World Cup-bound soccer star Kyle Beckerman grew up here in Chesapeake Country, in Crofton, where many a young player hopes to run in his footsteps.
The 31-year-old has been making a name for himself in the international soccer world through solid performances in the 2013 International Football Federation — or FIFA — Gold Cup and the 2014 World Cup qualification tournament for this summer’s games.
Beckerman played for Dematha High School his freshman season in 1996 and for Arundel High School from 1997 to 1998. In Anne Arundel County, he was voted to the All-County and the Maryland All-State teams in his junior year. Speed, quickness and overall athleticism earned him that early recognition.
With potential to become a great player, he moved to Florida in his senior year to train at the National Team Academy in the USA’s first-ever 17-and-under program. Playing alongside him were Landon Donovan and Demarcus Beasley, now international legends.
As a high school senior at the Academy, Beckerman traveled to New Zealand to play in the Under-17 World Cup. Starting all six games at midfield, he helped the U.S. to a historic fourth-place finish, adding a goal to his defensive play.
At just 18, Kyle Beckerman was drafted to Major League Soccer’s Miami Fusion in 2000. He now plays for Real Salt Lake, where he is captain and star of the show. Known for his calm, patient style, Beckerman has been selected to play in the League’s All-Star game for five straight seasons. In 2009, he became the youngest player in League history to play in 200 games at just 27 years old.
Energizing the Base
Beckerman’s increasing popularity has brought pride to Annapolis area soccer fans, in particular to aspiring high schoolers.
“Just knowing that someone from Arundel went on to play professional soccer makes me proud to be a Wildcat,” says Yasemin Yazici, senior forward for Arundel girls’ soccer. “Being able to say Kyle Beckerman went to this school is very humbling. Playing for the same program as [he did] is exciting and encourages me to leave a mark behind as well. If there was anyone to represent Arundel soccer and Maryland, I’m glad it’s him.”
“Just knowing that someone from Arundel went on to play professional soccer makes me proud to be a Wildcat,” says Yasemin Yazici.
Social media give local players and admirers a way to keep up with Beckerman — even to talk to him.
“My buddies and I started a pick-up soccer league,” says South River High graduate Tim Rose of Crofton, a college athlete aspiring to be a professional like Beckerman.
Rose’s pickup group started as just a couple of people. “Then it blossomed into something special.”
So special that Rose and his friends dreamed of getting Beckerman to join a game.
“As a joke, I threw him an invite to our pickup game via Twitter. I never received an actual reply from him, but I believe that he was just a bit intimidated to play with such supreme athletes as myself and the others,” Rose said.
Rose did get Twitter feedback from the hometown hero. Beckerman favorited one of Rose’s tweets expressing the love and pride Crofton has for their claim to fame.
“It feels great for a professional athlete to favorite my tweet, but a professional athlete in a sport you love to watch from your hometown, that was something special,” Rose said.
Beckerman is regarded not only for his play but also for his style of clothes, his mellow demeanor and the long, pulled-back blond dreadlocks that make him unmistakable on the pitch.
“He is attractive, and he has good taste in clothing,” says Yazici. “Oh, and I love his dreadlocks!”
Beckerman plays a popular role for the female fans of Real Salt Lake. But in an interview with MLS 36, Beckerman said his dreads were inspired by listening to Bob Marley during his Arundel High School days — not to attract ladies.
“He’s incredibly chill,” says South River alumni Phil Cocchiaro, 2011 All-Maryland player, as Kyle Beckerman once was. “He’s an inspiration for me and my friends. It’s so cool to know that he grew up playing soccer at Bell Branch Park like me.”
Up and Away
With full support from his hometown, Beckerman is living the dream.
His Real Salt Lake is jostling at the top the Major League Soccer standings, looking for yet another title under his leadership. His Team USA will travel to Brazil this summer for the FIFA World Cup, competing against Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and the rest of the world’s best.
Local youth will be with him all the way.
“The World Cup is the greatest thing in the world,” Yazici says. “Knowing that a Wildcat is playing gives me something to boast about. I’m sure fellow Wildcats will be on the lookout to watch him play as they cheer for the USA this summer.
“No matter what, Kyle Beckerman will always be talked about at Arundel High school.”