A Major League Player Who Hasn't Forgotten His Roots

Kyle Beckerman, who attended DeMatha and Arundel high schools, has played three times for the U.S. national team.
Kyle Beckerman, who attended DeMatha and Arundel high schools, has played three times for the U.S. national team. (By Joel Richardson For The Washington Post)
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By Dave Yanovitz
Special to The Washington Post
Thursday, May 1, 2008

Kyle Beckerman has gone from Crofton to the big time. Big time as in he's the player gracing the home page on the Web site for his current Major League Soccer team, Real Salt Lake. Big time as in he is featured in more than 20 YouTube videos.

Big time as in he's played in three matches with the U.S. men's national team.

Last weekend, the young man with the dreadlocks and the No. 5 jersey whom his high school coach called "down to earth" and without an ego came back to the D.C. area. He played 73 of 90 minutes Saturday against D.C. United in a 4-1 loss at RFK Stadium.

Beckerman went scoreless against United, a contrast from the game against D.C. two weeks prior at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City. That day, he scored twice in a 4-0 victory.

RFK Stadium, however, is the place where he started to dream of playing pro soccer, the stadium where he sat a week before being signed to a pro contract in 2000 and thought, "I could be playing here."

The 46-year-old stadium holds special memories for Beckerman, who as a rookie in 2000 scored his first MLS goal while playing for the Miami Fusion against United the day after he found out the team was eliminated from playoff contention. Beckerman's goal in the 58th minute helped Miami to a 6-2 victory over D.C., the defending MLS champs.

"It was awesome," Beckerman said Friday, not long after a practice at RFK. "I had 30 tickets that day, had like 20 friends from high school, family. It was an amazing feeling."

The Miami franchise disbanded after the 2001 season, and in the dispersal draft Beckerman was claimed by the Colorado Rapids. He played in Denver for 5 1/2 seasons before being traded to Real Salt Lake last summer.

Beckerman, 26, played for DeMatha in 1996 as a freshman, then for longtime coach Nick Jauschnegg at Arundel for his sophomore and junior years.

He recalled a 2-1 regular season win over rival Severna Park his junior season as one of his high school highlights.

"We had lost big to them the year before, and we really wanted to get back at them. Severna Park was always the heavyweight," said Beckerman, who made what newspaper accounts described as a "remarkable half-field run" past "a line of Severna Park defenders" to score the winning goal that night.

Even then, he was wowing the opposition.

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