The Jewish midfielder has played an integral role in the United States' unlikely World Cup run.
With dreadlocks flying as he sacrifices his body for the cause all over the field time and time again, the United States' Jewish midfielder Kyle Beckerman has been hard to miss at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
After initially being tabbed as a long shot to make the team's final World Cup roster, the 32-year-old defensive specialist from Crofton, Md., has played every minute of America’s first three Group G matches.
Beckerman made some crucial tackles at key moments as the Americans progressed to the knockout stages of soccer’s quadrennial showcase competition, despite losing their last match 1-0 to Germany. An earlier 2-1 win against Ghana and 2-2 draw against Portugal was enough to see the men through to the knockout round beginning this weekend.
Their next match is likely to come against Belgium.
In other Jewishly related World Cup news, Goalkeeper Austin Ajide and defender Juwon Oshaniwa, both native Nigerians who play for Hapoel Be’ersheva and Ashdod of the Israeli Premier League respectively, will also progress to the next round with Nigeria, who eked their way out of a soft Group F that included Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iran. Their next match will be against France.
The only player with Jewish or Israeli connections whose national team did not advance to the second round was, surprisingly, Italy’s Mario Balotelli.
The Italians lost to Uruguay in a “win or go home” match that was overshadowed by Uruguay’s striker Luis Suarez biting an Italian player, a shocking act that has resulted in Suarez' being suspended for an unprecedented nine matches, including the remainder of the competition in Brazil.
Balotelli, a Ghanaian-born striker who was adopted and raised by a Jewish family in Italy, was held scoreless against both Costa Rica and Uruguay after scoring the winning goal in Italy’s opening victory over England.