U.S. Soccer

Kyle Beckerman: Mr. Consistency


ussoccer.com: What’s the question you are most tired of answering?
Kyle Beckerman:
How long have you been growing your dreads? (laughs) The answer is seven or eight years.

ussoccer.com: You’ve been a part of this qualifying campaign from start to finish. What have been your impressions overall?
KB: “First off, it’s been a lot of fun. There have been really enjoyable challenges, from going to Antigua and playing in the monsoon to coming and playing in Salt Lake in front of our home crowd. It’s been a really cool journey and one I’ll never forget.”

ussoccer.com: A new coach and new cycle brings different challenges. Now two years in, how would you say you have been impacted?
KB: “Going through this always teaches you a little bit about the competition we have in this region. This round has shown that the other countries in CONCACAF are getting stronger. For me, I just have more experience now than I did before.

ussoccer.com: Your roles with Real Salt Lake and the National Team are somewhat different. How do you deal with the transition of moving between different environments?
KB: “The biggest thing for me is the similarities that I’m going to bring to Salt Lake and here, and that’s going in every day and training or playing with the same intensity, the same energy, and really bringing it. No matter if you’re the captain, the biggest leader or a newcomer, it goes a long way. That’s what I try to do, especially coming in here. More than anything, it’s working hard and putting it in every day. When you come into the National Team, the quality of play is amazing, and that’s what makes it so much fun.

ussoccer.com: Jurgen always says that’s why you are a guy he wants to call in all the time, saying you bring it every day and are a ‘pure giver’. It’s been the case in the last two years that for as many times as you’ve played, you’ve also come in and not gotten time.  How do you manage to continue to bring the same intensity, energy and attitude?
KB: “I’ve realized you can only control what you can control. For me, that means my effort and what I give every day. If I’m not playing, I’m not going to sit there and pout. I’m going to try and go to practice and make it tougher on the guys who are playing so when they get to the game it’s easier for them.  If I’m playing, it’s to get ready to make the job of the guys around me easier. It’s not hard – it’s the National Team, and it’s an honor any time you get to be part of the squad.  For my mindset, it’s just to be ready no matter what your role is.  I want to be ready for whatever comes my way.”

ussoccer.com: That seems like an easy approach, but that also takes a mental strength not every player is able to maintain. Where does that mentality come from for you?
KB: “It comes from my parents and the way they raised me and my brother. Also, being involved in wrestling growing up and doing that and soccer side by side was huge.  The discipline that came with wrestling is still something that has stayed with me.”

ussoccer.com: You’ve been known to break out a guitar or ukulele on some of these trips. What attracts you to playing music?
KB: “First off, I like music. I really enjoy listening to it. I look at it almost like a language. It’s cool the more you practice and the more you speak it, you become better and more comfortable. It’s a good hobby to have. It’s similar to golf for me where people play for a really long time and keep getting better and better.”

ussoccer.com: You’ve also been asked a lot if the World Cup is a like a carrot dangling in front of you. Doesn’t the answer seem obvious?
KB: “It does. I get asked ‘when do you think about the World Cup the most, and I say ‘when people ask me about it.’ With our sport, you always have to do the next thing. If you win one game, you have to be ready to win the next. If you get one call up, you have to try to get the next one. A lot of people  who don’t follow soccer don’t understand you always have to prove yourself to get called in.  You start to think that now the World Cup is getting closer since we’ve qualified, it’s right around the corner. But it’s still quite a long way away, so it’s something you stick in the back of your mind. It’s exciting when you think maybe I could be on that team, but there is so much work to be done still, and that’s what keeps me from thinking about it too much.”

ussoccer.com: Before we sat down, we were talking about World Cup preparation plans and you said ‘I have to get there first.’ Does the fact that you were in the mix last time around and didn’t make it keep you from looking too far ahead?
KB: “I guess it’s because I’ve never been this close to making it. For a while, the National Team was really done for me, and I didn’t think it was going to come back. When Jurgen came and it was a second chance, I wanted to run with it and really take advantage of the opportunity put in front of me.  It’s the unknown, so I don’t want to get ahead of myself and say I’m going to be there, but at the same time I also want to have the possibility in the back of my mind. This is what we are all working so hard for.”


Player Quotes: 2016 U.S. Women's Olympic Soccer Team

Midfielder and co-captain Carli Lloyd

On making the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team:
Even though this is my third Olympics, each and every time it’s very special and humbling to be part of an Olympic Team. It’s special to represent U.S. Soccer, our country and Team USA, and it’s always a dream come true. This is another challenge that awaits us. No team has won a World Cup and then won an Olympics. We want to come home with a gold medal, so being able to thrive under the challenge is great. It won’t be easy and we’re going to have to be ready for it.” 

On the mix of veterans and less experienced players:
“Every tournament that I’ve been a part of has been different. We were there without Abby in 2008; in 2012 we were coming off the 2011 World Cup which we did not win, and now we are here in 2016 and we have a lot of young players. They have sparked the energy and have brought talent, but this is also mixed with us veteran players. We know what to expect and what is needed to win the gold medal. We know it’s different. We can help the younger players deal with that. We may also come out and lose our first game, and we have to realize that it is okay and we can keep moving forward and still win. Nothing worthwhile in life is gone through without challenges. This team will be able to handle it and lean on each other.” 

Defender and co-captain Becky Sauerbrunn

On making the U.S. Olympic Team:
“Any time you get to represent the United States is a tremendous honor. I'm thrilled to be going to my second Olympic Games. It is a truly unique experience being a part of Team USA with all these athletes competing in all these different disciplines. There's a real sense of camaraderie and being a part of something bigger than just your team. In that sense it's quite different from the World Cup where the spotlight and pressure rest solely on our team.”

On the mix of veterans and less experienced players:
“We have a lot of new faces on the roster compared to just a year ago. It's been a quick turnaround, but the young players have done such an amazing and professional job working in to our system while adding their own flair to our team DNA. We're attempting to evolve our style of play, and the new players have been instrumental in helping us get to a new level. It's a wonderful mix of experience and youth, and the team has a great energy at camps.”

Goalkeeper Hope Solo

On making the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team:
“Jill called and told me that I made the team and said ‘I know this is a formality,’ but every official Olympic roster means a great deal to me. It’s a hard roster to make, with less players, and it's a tough tournament, a lot of games in a short amount of time. You never know if you are going to be able to stay healthy all the way leading into when the roster is named. There are a lot factors that go into making it, and it means a great deal for every player. I’m excited to navigate our way through and see all that Brazil has to offer."

On how this is different from last year and the Women’s World Cup:
“It's a smaller roster than last year’s World Cup team and it's a much different mix of players. The task ahead of us is going to be challenging. By no means is this tournament going to be easy, not with all of the challenges we will face from our great opponents and also from the country itself. I believe in our young players’ skill. We all believe in their ability, but the fun part for me is that they will also have the opportunity to show the world more than skill alone. They will have to show the mental strength that it takes to rise to the occasion of an Olympic tournament."

Forward Mallory Pugh

On making her first Olympic Team:
“I’m super excited and nervous at the same time. When [Jill Ellis] called, a bunch of emotions were going through my mind. I was a bit in shock because I know I’ve worked hard and it’s because of my teammates on the National Team, on the U-20s and back at home that have pushed me. I appreciate that from them. I wouldn’t be in the position I am in today without them. I thought, ‘did that really just happen? Am I going to go to the Olympics?’ I will not only be with amazing athletes on my team, but also on Team USA. It will be so cool to see so many different athletes, find out their journeys and be inspired by them.”

Midfielder Allie Long

On making her first U.S. Olympic Team:
“As soon as Jill said congrats, I was so grateful and thankful. I tried not to cry, but when we hung up the phone I did; only happy tears. It was such a cool moment. People had told me this was impossible. The team had just won the World Cup, it was hard that they would change the team and I came in so late, but it happened. I think it’s one of the most humbling and special experiences. This is my first big tournament, but I know what it means to represent your country. I watched the last Olympic Games and I know how cool it is and what it takes to win. You represent everyone in the U.S. and everyone is watching. It’s so special. I’m focusing on being my best, both physically and mentally. I think when I’m there it will hit me, but this is unbelievable and I’m so happy.”

Midfielder Megan Rapinoe

On coming back from ACL surgery last December and making the Olympic roster:
“This is really special to me. There was a big part of me that didn’t know if this was possible, so that was a very realistic outcome to this. It’s very surreal, mostly because I have a lot of work to do now, and where I am at now is not where I am going to be in a few weeks. Going to the Olympics and representing your country is incredible, but this one is that much better. After everything I went through and the uncertainty, this one is very special.”

Defender Whitney Engen

On making her first U.S. Olympic team:
“It has been kind of a crazy year for me, so to have been picked is a huge honor. Winning the World Cup last year was amazing, but then the process started again and I’m happy that the hard work has paid off.”

On the mix of veterans and less experienced players:
“There is a good mix of youth and older players, but every person has been in a big stage in the same capacity. It’s not the same level as a World Cup or the Olympics, but every person knows how to win and likes to win. We have a lot of first-timers, but we’ve all won before. That gives us the confidence going into Brazil.”

Midfielder Lindsey Horan

On making her first U.S. Olympic Team:
“It’s such an unreal feeling. It hasn’t settled in. I’m grateful and thankful to get this opportunity to represent my country at the Olympics. It’s a special feeling knowing you represent your country and have all of these amazing athletes around you, and we are all at the end of the day in one big team.”

Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher

On making her first Olympic Team:
“It’s very exciting. I was sitting in my apartment ready to go explore Chicago with my parents, so receiving that phone call from Jill sure made the day a bit better. This is a huge honor. You dream of going to the Olympics and competing there. The Women’s World Cup is the biggest stage for soccer, but the Olympics there is just something special about joining Team USA and the history behind the Olympic Games. It’s incredible, and being part of it is very special.” 

Midfielder Morgan Brian

On making her first Olympic Team:
“Making the Olympic team is a life-long dream. It's always an amazing feeling fulfilling a dream and one we have all worked incredibly hard for. We want to bring back the gold medal and do something no other team has done before, all while representing the Red, White and Blue.”

Defender Kelley O’Hara

On making the U.S. Olympic Team:
I don’t think it will ever get old or less stressful when it comes to making a roster because this team is so deep and so many people can make it. Can it be a dream come true if it’s your second Olympics? I say yes because it’s special to go to another one. Not a lot of people are two-time Olympians. I’m honored to be on this team and represent the USA.”

On how the Olympics differs from a World Cup:
“The World Cup is solely football, but at the Olympics you are part of Team USA, this bigger picture and these amazing athletes that are coming together and pulling for each other. You’re not only part of just U.S. Soccer, but also of Team USA and that’s very cool.”

Defender Julie Johnston:

On Making the U.S. Olympic Team:
“I feel anytime you can represent the country it’s an amazing honor. Coming off the World Cup win, it was such a great journey. Right after that win I just wanted more, and to have another opportunity to play with this team in a big tournament. Rio was the next stop and this whole process always makes me fall in love with the sport over and over again.”

Defender Meghan Klingenberg:

On making the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team after being an alternate in 2012:
“When Jill called me that’s what she said, ‘this call is a bit different than 4 years ago,’ and it was one of the best things. I was happy and proud in 2012 as alternate but I wanted to be on the team and win a medal with my teammates and win a medal for the USA. So to be able to go to Brazil is special and now that I’m going I’m humbled and honored to represent it with this group of people. We have a great team with incredible people.”

Defender Ali Krieger:

On making the U.S. Olympic Team after having an ACL injury keep her out four years ago:
“I’m so excited to make the team. After three tries, it’s finally happened. I was an alternate in 2008, and then not being able to go in 2012, but now it’s my first time going to the Olympics so I’ve waited for this my entire life and I’ve trained for it my entire life. We are playing for a bigger Team USA. It’s inspiring to see so many athletes be a part of this. There’s extra motivation and extra support. It’s bigger than just ourselves. This focuses on everything. It’s so cool. Not many people get to go to the Olympics and being part of this group that does go is unbelievable. I’m so happy and excited. You play to be able to compete at the highest level and you dream of this when you’re young. Making it a reality is amazing”

Forward Alex Morgan:

On Making the U.S. Olympic Team:
“Just to be able to continue on this journey with this team is incredible. Even though the players have changed over the last year especially, the heart of this team always stays the same. For big tournaments this team always performs well and shows up for big moments so I’m excited to continue this and help the younger players as we move close to Rio.”
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WNT Jul 12, 2016
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