SANDY, UTAH (Monday, December 21, 2020) – Real Salt Lake midfielder Kyle Beckerman announced on Monday that after 21 seasons in Major League Soccer and 14 with Real Salt Lake, he will be retiring from professional soccer. The nine-time MLS All-Star, four-time club Most Valuable Player, three-time Jordan Guernsey Humanitarian of the Year award winner and captain of the 2009 MLS Cup champion RSL team is the league’s all-time leader in career MLS regular-season games played (498), games started (461) and minutes played (41,164) among field players.
“I came to Utah knowing there was a mountain to climb but feeling we could get to the top with a team that valued hard work, belief in ourselves and commitment to one another. We succeeded together, and I lifted a trophy for each one of you who believed in us. We created a foundation on which RSL Nation will rest for years to come,” Beckerman said in his statement. “There are so many people to thank over 21 years. I appreciate all of the teammates I’ve battled with on the field and the coaches who put their trust in me. Thank you to all of the fans who never wavered though the highs and the lows, under sunny skies and through rain, sleet to and snow. Most of all, I’m grateful to my family who have been my biggest supporters. My love for the game comes second only to you, and I know there is plenty to look forward to in this next chapter.”
Beckerman started his MLS career at just 18 years old in 2000, signing with the Miami Fusion. Although he saw limited playing time in his first two seasons, playing alongside seasoned veterans set the tone for the rest of his career. When Miami was contracted from the league in 2002, he moved to the Colorado Rapids in the MLS Dispersal Draft. In 2003, he started a stretch that would see him play at least 2,100 minutes in 17 of the next 18 seasons. In 2006, he had his highest-scoring season, netting seven goals in a career-high 2,790 minutes in 31 appearances, playing every minute of every match he played. The following season, he was traded to Real Salt Lake on July 16, 2007, starting the next chapter of his illustrious career.
Over the course of the next 14 seasons, he was instrumental in establishing Real Salt Lake’s identity on and off the field. He was named captain in the 2008 season and RSL would reach the postseason in seven consecutive seasons, highlighted by the 2009 MLS Cup win in a shootout against the LA Galaxy. In his 14 seasons with the club, he amassed 350 appearances, 337 starts, 30 goals and 39 assists in MLS regular-season action. Across all competitions, including CONCACAF Champions League, Leagues Cup, Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, the MLS Is Back Tournament and postseason games, the Crofton, Maryland native had 410 appearances, 392 starts, 34 goals and 43 assists for the club.
During his tenure as captain, RSL won MLS Cup in 2009 and reached finals in the 2010-11 CONCACAF Champions League, 2013 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and 2013 MLS Cup. For his efforts, he was voted by his teammates as the club’s MVP four times – 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2016.
As vital as he was on the field, he was also a fan-favorite and an instrumental part of the community. Throughout his career, he was a key part of RSL’s community engagement efforts and was named the Jordan Guernsey Humanitarian of the Year in 2018-2020 for his extensive work in the community, highlighted by the “Light the Res” project that brought solar energy to homes on the Navajo Reservation.
In addition to his success on the club level, he also had 58 caps for the U.S. National Team, including appearances in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2009, 2013 and 2015 and the Copa America tournament in 2007 and 2016. In winning the Gold Cup title in 2013, he was named MVP of the Gold Cup Final. At the U-17 level, he developed at the Bradenton Academy in Florida alongside teammates who would become the core of the U.S. National Team for years to come. In 1999, the U.S. reached the semifinals of the FIFA U-17 Championships, with Beckerman scoring the winning goal in the quarterfinals against Mexico.
Statements from Real Salt Lake:
RSL General Manager Elliot Fall – “There aren’t words to describe the impact Kyle has had on our club, MLS, and this community. When you think of Real Salt Lake, you think of Kyle Beckerman. He is a legend. There will never be another like him. This is the end of an era, but I’m sure the next chapter from Kyle will be special as well. That’s the kind of person he is.”
Twelve-year RSL defender and Assistant General Manager Tony Beltran – “Kyle Beckerman is an American hero – one of his Club, Utah, US Soccer and our country itself. He embodies a bygone era in MLS, one where vigor and passion are at the forefront of a primal need to vie for conquest. We will never see his like again.”
RSL Head Coach Freddy Juarez – “Kyle is a great human being who doesn’t need or want the spotlight. He is selfless and always wanted what was best for the group. His work ethic is remarkable. Kyle gave his all every day at every training session. His smile, every time we had a 5v2, showed you the kid in him and the love he has for the game. As a coach, I’ve enjoyed every minute of watching him play, train and the leadership he displayed with the team. I am grateful for the example he set for our young players of hard work and determination. As a fan, I am grateful to Kyle for giving his heart to the sport and for being a remarkable human being off the pitch.”
RSL Interim President John Kimball – “From Day One, Kyle has redefined Real Salt Lake. On and off the field, we have become champions and whether it is in captaining the team to victory or in serving as an ambassador for the game throughout Utah, he has been front and center. He is a World Class player who has become a part of our community and we can’t thank him enough for his 14 years with Real Salt Lake. We wish him and his family best of luck in the next chapter of his life. He undoubtedly will approach it with the same passion, professionalism and authenticity that he has brought to the club.”
Executive Director of the RSL Foundation Mary VanMinde – “Kyle’s impact has not only been felt on the field but in communities he has touched over his career. Kyle has worked statewide to make a difference in Utah, a state he calls home. It has been a great experience working with him to bring solar and books to the students on the Navajo Reservation. His project has made an incredible difference to so many.”