Supporters of the United States men's national team have been clamoring for a youth movement for several years now. Many feel it's time for a generational shift within the player pool and most discussions center around Kyle Beckerman's continuous inclusion on rosters.
The 34-year-old midfielder was a godsend at the 2014 World Cup, putting in great defensive shifts that added tons of value to the team. However, he's slowly regressed over the last two years due to the natural decline of aging and mileage on his legs. Still, he was named to the final 23-man roster for the Copa America. How did he do?
Beckerman appeared in four matches, starting one. Here's a look at his numbers:
Games Played: 4
Minutes Played: 90
Defensive Actions: 2
Suspensions hit the U.S. hard heading into their crucial semifinal match against No. 1 ranked Argentina. Jermaine Jones had a great tournament and found himself on the sideline thanks to a red card. Alejandro Bedoya's two yellow cards also kept him out. With two gaping holes in the midfield there were a few lineup choices to make. Instead of Darlington Nagbe getting the start, the move was made to bring in Beckerman and move Michael Bradley up in the formation. His reliability had won him a spot in the lineup against the best team in the world.
And that's where the positives end. Because in his 60 minutes against Argentina he was completely outclassed. Obviously Argentina are amazing. There's no denying that. But Beckerman wasn't even a traffic cone in Argentine midfield's path. If it was two years ago and Beckerman was still in his best form he surely would've fared better. But time is the great equalizer.
His usage overall in this tournament boiled down to three sub appearances and the emergency start. He was brought on for his veteran leadership, but his on-field production didn't show up.
Copa Grade - C-
It may be unfair to give a grade to a player who only accumulated 90 minutes in six matches, but if he's good enough to start in the biggest match of the tournament, he's good enough to be judged. We showed some lenience seeing as the opposition was Argentina, but his performance as a whole was disappointing.
There's not much argument that Beckerman is past his prime. The question now is, does he provide enough value to keep receiving call-ups to the national team? Perry Kitchen and Danny Williams are two younger players who could push him out. Then there's Kellyn Acosta and Alfredo Morales too. All four are capable of playing the No. 6 role, but as long as the veteran still has gas in the tank there's the possibility of him sticking around. September's World Cup qualifiers should paint the picture of what his future with the national team looks like.