Photo by John Todd/ISIPhotos.com
By IVES GALARCEP
COMMERCE CITY, Colo.– As DaMarcus Beasley sipped hot coffee and did his best to warm up after one of the coldest and most surreal nights he had ever experienced in his dozen years as a U.S. Men’s National team player, he looked much older than the Beasley so many of us remember. That fresh-faced youngster who made a big splash in the 2002 World Cup has morphed in a 30-year-old wily veteran, and after more than a decade and 97 appearances for the U.S., Beasley was able to turn back time and flash the qualities that made him a fan favorite at a young age.
On a night when so many of his teammates turned in outstanding performances, it was Beasley who stood out the most. Making his first national team start in almost three years, and deputized into a starting left back role because of the rash of injuries at the position, Beasley was thoroughly impressive at the position. He raced up and down the left flank breaking up Costa Rican attacks and surging through the heavy snow at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park like he had played in snow all his life. Beasley’s 98th U.S. national team appearance was one of his best, and he earned Man of the Match honors for it.
“Jurgen called me in to do a job tonight, and obviously there’s a lot of injuries,” Beasley said. “Whenever I get called in, I obviously want to do what’s best for my country and my team, and that job was left back tonight.
“It’s not that I don’t feel comfortable—obviously I’m not familiar with the position but I feel comfortable playing left back,” Beasley said. “That’s not a problem for me. I’m just happy that we got three points tonight. Obviously in Honduras it’s a bit tough, but we got three points. We won ugly, the conditions were bad, but that’s all that matters.”
Injuries to regular left backs Fabian Johnson and Edgar Castillo, coupled with injuries to fullbacks Steve Cherundolo, Timmy Chandler, Michael Parkhurst and Geoff Cameron forced Klinsmann to dig deep in his depth chart and he turned to Beasley, who he gave a brief run at left back late in the U.S. team’s friendly victory against Mexico last August.
“After the first day, he just told me, “Beez, you’re playing LB”. That’s all he needed to say,” Beasley said. “He knows I’ve been around for a while. He doesn’t need to speak to me for 10 minutes about what I need to do. He said, Beez, you feel comfortable playing left back? I said “yeah.” The conversation took literally 10 seconds and that was it.
“I think he he knows I can play the position in a pinch,” Beasley added. “Obviously, when the two other backs—Stevie (Cherundolo) and Fabian (Johnson) get back obviously I’m not going to play there. But whatever I can do to help the team is what I’ll do.”
Beasley frustrated Costa Rican attackers all night, timing his challenges perfectly and using his speed to close down numerous threats. His excellent play at left back was a far cry from how he fared in his last U.S. national team start at left back, almost four years ago in a qualifier against the very same Costa Rica side.
“That was four years ago. I don’t think about that,” said Beasley. “I can probably count on my one hand how many times I’ve played left back. I had one bad game that game. The other ones were pretty good. But I’m glad that Jurgen showed the confidence in me to put me in, in a qualifying match, to play left back.”
“DaMarcus has a feel for the game, he’s easy to play with, he reads things well, and so DaMarcus is a guy you want on your team,” Michael Bradley said. “He stepped up in a big way tonight. Obviously he’s been out of the team for a few games, but in the big picture he’s a veteran guy. A guy who’s been through it before, so when he comes in his presence helps us.”
“It’s so easy to play with that guy. He’s such a good football player,” Herculez Gomez said of Beasley. “At times, it was very difficult for us to keep the ball because of these conditions, and I thought we did very well on that left side.
“Having a player like (Beasley) makes it so easy,” Gomez said. “He’s a consummate pro. He’s going to get 100 (caps) for sure, and more. He’s a good player and I don’t think there’s anybody on our team who won’t tell you that.”
Beasley was one of several American players who turned in outstanding games in they heavy snow on Friday night. He is no stranger to playing in snow, but acknowledged that Friday’s conditions were the worst he had ever played in.
“I’ve never played like that, that was like a blizzard,” Beasley said. “I’ve played in the snow a couple of times, in Germany and Holland, but never in a game like that when there are three or four inches of snow. That was pretty tough.”
Beasley battled through that to turn in one of his best national team performances in years and make the most of a return to the national team that not everybody thought would happen, but one he always believed could happen.
“I always thought I’d be back,” said Beasley, who had made just four substitute appearances since the 2010 World Cup. “I’m confident in my ability, confident that if I play well with Puebla that Jurgen will give me a shot.
“Obviously I’m not going to be in every camp. But if keep playing well, and I keep my head down and training like I’ve been doing, I’ll get chances like this,” Beasley said. “Obviously I hope I get called up more often but if I don’t all I can do is keep playing well for Puebla and go from there.”