SANDY, Utah — When the U.S. national team kicks off against Costa Rica in a World Cup qualifier on Friday night, Real Salt Lake players and coaches will have a little extra interest.
Of course, those in the organization are soccer fans, which that alone would be enough for them to tune in, but they also have three teammates that are involved with the match at some level.
RSL's leading scorer Alvaro Saborio plays a very prominent role for Los Ticos, while both Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando are on the US roster. It is not extremely likely Beckerman or Rimando will play tonight at Estadio Nacional, something that would suit RSL Head Coach Jason Kreis just fine.
"I'm hoping they all don't play. I'm hoping to turn the game on and watch our guys root their teammates on from the bench," said Kreis.
It is a difficult thing for a club coach to see his players called into national team duty. On a personal note, a coach is happy to see his players recognized and succeed, but at the same time, he doesn't want to see a player come back injured, or even more common in MLS, have that player miss club games because of his call-up.
With RSL on a bye this week, however, the four international call-ups – Abdoulie Mansally is away with The Gambia for their Sept. 7 qualifier against Tanzania – are not set to miss any league games.
"I think we are fortunate now at this part of the season not to lose our guys to international call-ups where at the first half of the season we lost our guys consistently to international call-ups," said Kreis following training on Friday. "I think we are getting some of the benefit that we lost at the beginning part of the season because other teams weren't playing games, so they didn't lose players for international matches. I think in the end it has shaken out pretty fairly."
One Real Salt Lake player that may have even a little more interest in the game is Tony Beltran. The outside back spent most of the month of July with the U.S. at the Gold Cup. He was also called into camp in January and has a relationship with almost all the American players.
"I think almost everybody that is on the roster I have played with now except maybe a couple of exceptions," Beltran said on Friday following training. "You know whoever puts on the jersey, I'm rooting for them of course. Just being able to be a part of that group I naturally want to see them do well. Before that, of course, I am an American so I am rooting for them. And obviously, it's cool that I know a lot of them on a personal level as well."