History-making Beasley draws praise at his fourth World Cup

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Photo by John Todd/ISIphotos.com

By FRANCO PANIZO

SAO PAULO — Look at DaMarcus Beasley these days and you will not see the baby-faced youngster with the fresh haircut who stepped on the field 12 years ago and dazzled in his first World Cup.

What you will see aside from his scruffy beard and completely shaven head is a wily veteran, one who has made history by playing in his fourth World Cup and is helping to guide a young U.S. Men’s National Team in Brazil.

Beasley became the first American to play in four World Cups when he lined up for the U.S. in its opener against Ghana earlier this month, a notable accomplishment for one of the team’s most noble servants. But the 32-year-old Beasley being in the situation to achieve such a milestone was a result of his perseverance and hard work, overcoming some rough times at both the club and international levels before becoming a staple of head coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s lineup.

“DaMarcus is without a doubt, when you look back, one of the best players in U.S. Soccer history,” said midfielder Michael Bradley. “What he has done for club teams he has been on, what he has done for the national team, the consistency, the longevity, and he continues to show how important he is for us. Honestly, not enough good things to say about DaMarcus.”

The wheels that Beasley had back in the day have slowed a bit – even though his game still offers some quickness as evidenced by one play in the second half of the recent loss to Germany – and he no longer is the electric left midfielder that he once was. He instead plays left back now, a position that he initially resisted wanting to play but now fully embraces.

It was in that spot that Beasley made history on June 16 in the 2-1 win over Ghana. He drew criticism from some fans and media for his performance that day, but some of it appeared to be misguided. Beasley allowed a number of crosses to come in and slipped a few times, but he kept his attackers in front of him and was never beaten from the run of play by his mark.

It wasn’t a spectacular performance by any means, but one that demonstrated that Beasley is capable of being a serviceable left back at a high level.

“I’m a big fan of wingers becoming fullbacks. I just think it’s a natural progression,” said goalkeeper Tim Howard. “I think at the beginning he wasn’t overjoyed by it but once he grasped it, he’s been brilliant. I really think he’s fantastic. We tease him about being the old guy – even though he’s not as old as me and Nick (Rimando) – but he’s just been fantastic.”

Beasley might playfully be looked at as the elder statesman of the group, but his maturity and high soccer IQ have helped him adjust to playing left back while also allowing for him to be a leader that younger and lesser-experienced players like Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler can count on for advice.

Beasley’s willingness to be there for teammates is a trait that is admired in the U.S. locker room, but so too are his calmness and composure. You never see Beasley get rattled much – not even when facing pressure-filled situations – and that’s a characteristic that he says has always been part of his DNA.

“You can’t really teach that,” said Beasley. “That’s always been inside me whenever I played. I like big games. For me, I like being under the lights. I like playing in front of 80,000 people. It takes out the nerves for me.

“For me, playing in World Cups or Champions League or semifinals, that’s where you want to show you belong in this position … you deserve to be there. For me, being in these type of games and these environments, I enjoy it. It’s fun for me to play. Once you get the first touch on the ball, it’s like you’re playing any other game. You forget about the World Cup, you forget about the fans, you just go out there and play and make sure you’re focused in your position and what you need to do to win the game.”

The versatile veteran with 119 caps to his name had refrained from speaking to media at the World Cup prior to Saturday. He said he did that so as to focus on the games and avoid answering questions about an individual accomplishment, which he is not a fan of and does not plan on talking about until after he calls it a career.

Even so, he is proud to be representing the U.S. in the prestigious tournament for a fourth consecutive time.

“For me, being on the field is great, being around these guys another World Cup cycle has been amazing,” said Beasley. “(Left back is a) different position for me, but I still play with the same heart and desire to win every game, to win every tackle, to sometimes maybe score a goal. I’m just happy to be here and be able to help get us to the next round.”

Having had to reinvent his game and plow through some obstacles to make it this far, Beasley is enjoying his time in Brazil and hopes to extend the Americans’ stay there when they take on Belgium in a Round of 16 match on Tuesday.

Beasley is likely to be starting in that one barring any unforeseen circumstances, giving him yet another World Cup appearance and adding to his storied U.S. career.

“Beas is just an ultimate soccer player,” said midfielder Kyle Beckerman. “He can play in numerous positions. … He defends well, he attacks for us. Beas is just an ultimate professional, so it’s great to see he gets that fourth World Cup and he deserves it.”

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36 Responses to History-making Beasley draws praise at his fourth World Cup

  1. beachbum says:

    awesome achievement. deserves every bit of praise and respect he’s earned for doing it. great role model for my son is his story

    • Phily from north Jersey. says:

      this funnin’ guy right here. For all the attention given to the panny waste Landon Donovan for not getting a 4th word cup that he though he was entitled to regardless of how hard he worked for it, and all most folks on this thread do is criticize a guy who worked his tail off to earn a starting spot when most folks thought he was too old, too small, and too whatever. and what has done? not much other than keep his house locked DOWN in the group of death. on behalf of DMB, i got your indifference RIGHT HERE.

      Seriously though, if this guy hasn’t earned your respect yet, then I’m not sure you understand the nature of the position.

    • LeaveAReplyMof@ says:

      i bet he scores against Belgium then lift his shirt to reveal an undershirt with the phrase “para mexico tambien” written on it.

    • Felix says:

      +100
      Great to see Beasley to get credit for this accomplishment. I’ve thought it was a shame he didn’t get more plaudits before, glad to see it come now.
      Its especially laudible considering how he’s resurrected his national team career a couple of times, in the ’06 WC alot of fans were against him due to his drop in USMNT form in favor of Bobby Convey (it sounds funny now) and he fell off the earth after the ’09 CC and his Euro career went nomadic.
      But he was always a pro and learned a new position at his age – all respect to Beaz.

    • Brolo says:

      Definitely the best fifa American player of all time.

  2. Jordan says:

    I dont think anyone expected him to be a big part of the 2014 cycle but here he is, a true veteran ping forward and playing well at his 4th WC. Now if he could just get a goal on Tuesday

    • Cylo says:

      I don’t think anybody did. He didn’t look good back in 2010. Struggled with injuries with Rangers and Hannover. It looked like he was out of it. Then made the trip to Mexico. Got healthy and has really turned his career around. However even on the national level his wing play was nothing special. Until that move to LB sealed it. Amazing turn around. I would never think that he would be starting over Chandler.

  3. Sergio of SF says:

    Imagine if he had gone to the last world cup as well. I don’t think the list of players to go to five is that big.

    • Umlaut says:

      The 2010 WC?

    • H-Town says:

      Um… What?!?

    • 1st time caller says:

      Uhh… He did… That’s why his achievement is playing in FOUR World Cups (2002, 2006, 2010 & 2014) Bob just didn’t play him all that much.

    • argh says:

      he got 10 mins against Algeria

      2002 he was on FIRE. Got an assist
      2006. Pretty so-so but with an assist.
      2010. Cameo
      2014. Been pretty good. He’s a Legend and I doubted his inclusion. I’m sorry.

  4. Nic D "The TX 2 Stepper" says:

    Run DMB is till runnin’ and gunnin’! I hope he sneaks forward and gts himself a goal.

  5. Tom_in_So_IL says:

    Hell he’s only 32 a 5th is possible not likely but possible.

  6. andrewinTally says:

    The Donovan comparison is inevitable, so here it comes. If anyone was going to bet on Beasley making it to the 2014 instead of Donovan, we would have called them crazy. Beas has shown how to build a career on moderate skill and limited physical size. Persistence pays off, eventually. Delighted by his success. Still waiting for a killer cross from the left side after one of his amazing runs.
    Meanwhile, I think this will be the last World Cup in which we will see US midfielders and even defenders who are uncomfortable on the ball. Guys like Zusi, Davis and Bedoya are just not comfy holding on to the ball and taking on opponents in the middle of the field. Imagine if we had an Adu type running the show and allowing Bradley to play his natural role. It’s going to be interesting to see how soon Klinsy begins the transition to 2018 and we see the retirement of the thirty-somethings. One exception will be Clint Dempsey. I believe Klinsy keeps Dempsey as long as he is able and still wants to play. Dempsey’s hunger for the game is what makes him the bonafide face of U.S soccer.

    • argh says:

      Nice comment and agree with most of your points. But I think you can add Mikey Bradley to the group of midfielders whose days are numbered. This will surely be MB’s last World Cup. We have much better talent in the pipeline and he will be history by WC 2018.

      • Tordondo says:

        simple and succinct – You’re nuts.

      • slowleftarm says:

        I’d love to know who the midfielders are that are going to unseat MB. Other than maybe Luis Gil, I don’t see anyone immediately stepping into our central midfield after the world cup. And don’t give me Zelalem or some other completely unproven kid who’s never done anything. I’m all for Zelalem playing for the US, but not until he’s good enough.

        Predicting four years ahead is tough but right now I’d expect MB to be starting in our first game in Russia.

        • Michael Bradley says:

          Yes, i am on the team for life!

          Four years from now, i will be turning balls over in Moscow, comrades!

      • BB says:

        I’d say the odds are better for him to be starting in Qatar (or wherever the 2022 World Cup is) than missing out on 2018.

      • Dennis says:

        There are faster players than MB. There better tacklers than MB. There are players who can strike a ball better than MB. There are players who can dribble in tight spaces better than MB. There are players with a better first touch than MB. There are players who can run with the ball in the open field better than MB.

        But none of those players who wear a US uniform can work as tirelessly to do all the things required to make a team work, none of those players have intelligence to support teammates who are struggling and none of those players have such a complete set of skills. What MB brings to the USMNT is priceless.

      • Advocate says:

        Bradley hasn’t been playing as well as we all expected because Klinsmann has had to play Bradley out of position — too far forward — in an attempt to fill the creative void in our attack that became evident after Donovan was cut from the team. That will be fixed, one way or another, after the World Cup, and Bradley can go back to being himself and stop having to be Donovan and Bradley combined.

  7. argh says:

    LEGEND

    Played in the CL semi-final.

    donovan did not

  8. Nate says:

    I remember when 90% of the comments about beasley were derisive and insulting, as if he was a complete liability who had accomplished nothing in his career. Goes to show how much the negative commenters actually know.

    • Fair Observer says:

      haha exactly. during the run up the this WC, people were begging for someone to take that LB position from Beas. everyone assumed FJ would move back to LB for the WC, calling Beasley the “solid back-up LB only because of his speed”. at least those same haters are finally coming around to reality. Beasley isn’t a legend in the “one of the best players ever for the US” type, but he is a legend in his own right; for being a talented team-player who did everything asked of him to contribute. He has never been the star but has always been a role-player of sorts (to a higher level than the usual connotation of the term).

  9. Dennis says:

    I have consistently said Beasley was very good, but have been surprised about how well his speed has held up with age. I worried before this WC that some teams would take advantage of his like of size and would literally pound him into submission by taking him into the box in a crowd. He has surprised me by being able to keep his marks in front of him and avoid getting into any aerial contests with bigger players (thanks in part to the tall central defenders who have helped keep the opponents from pushing inside successfully).
    I do not think anyone ever doubted his tenacity and drive and everyone has, I think, shown respect to him.

  10. John says:

    Couldn’t disagree more. Beasley’s play has been tentative in every game so far. Go back and watch how many flighted balls he could step in and head or bring down and dribble out which he instead waits on to drop. Most of them taken by the next nearest player, be it teammate or opponent. Then watch how many crosses come in unchallenged across his face, as though at international level it’s good enough just to stay goalside and nothing else. I’m surprised and disappointed that the moment looks too big for a player of such experience. I’d like to see Chandler over there at this point.

    • Johnny says:

      +1. Agree completely with you John. He was getting torched by some of the Ghana players. Portugal and Germny went right at him. There were a lot of crosses coming from his side because of this. He was a good player but not what he once was.
      Give me Fabian at LB and Chandler at RB.

  11. Isaac says:

    I kind of forgot how much relief the U.S. got out of Beasley simply because he could jink out of jams and drive the attack down the flank to push the team up the field as a whole. It’s quite inspiring to see again, and it’s a valuable asset. Being at a 4th World Cup seems to have given him the confidence to take a hold of the ball and take a hold of the game, even if it is from left back.

    Having two full backs so willing and able to bomb up the flanks with and without the ball has been a huge plus to this team, and I see our next goal coming from one of these two guys.

  12. BrianVT says:

    It’s about time this article got written. I’ve been saying all along that there was a disproportionate amount of attention to LD *not* making his 4th WC vs. DMB *making* his 4th. On top of that, he’s more than adeptly executed the role that Kilnni has carved out for him.