Player Spotlight

DaMarcus Beasley Reflects On His Fourth World Cup

The 32-year-old left back is the lone holdover from the 2002 World Cup team that was just a missed handball call away from playing in the semifinals. Brian Sciaretta has more on the Fort Wayne, Ind., native.
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
June 26, 2014
6:35 AM
IT HAS ALL COME DOWN to this in Brazil. The United States will have its chance to advance to the knockout stages at the World Cup when it squares off against a powerful German team on Thursday (12 p.m. ET, ESPN).

It will be an extremely difficult game for the U.S. team to achieve a result and it will be one where the veterans of the team will have to step up. And that means DaMarcus Beasley, who is playing in his fourth and likely final World Cup, will play a key role.

Over the past year, U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann has converted Beasley, a winger, into a left back. It has been met with varying degrees of success but against Germany, the Fort Wayne, Ind., native will have the chance to help the team in its biggest game in four years. Ahead of the match Beasley played the elder statesman role as expected, reflecting on the team's development and prospects ahead of the contest.

“I think we're moving in the right direction, 100 percent," he said. "With the players that are coming in, a lot of young players, I think we have the biggest talent pool that we've had in a long time. It shows that the youth development in our country is starting to produce good young players.

“That's what you need,” he added. “You need good young players to come up and push guys like me, guys like Tim Howard, guys like Clint Dempsey for a spot. We've got three guys that are 20 years old on this roster, so that speaks well for our team.”

Much has been made about the physically taxing conditions for players in Brazil. Klinsmann has tried to help prepare the team with physically rigorous training sessions over the past month that falls in line with his fitness-oriented approach in place since taking the reins in 2011.

Beasley has always been one of the fastest players on the U.S. national team but now at 32 years old, he is a different type of player. Instead of the young, tireless runner, he is a mentally stronger player. This has allowed him to adjust to difficult conditions and situations where it isn’t as easy for him as it was in the past.

“Obviously, you look at the game differently,” Beasley explained. “Mentally you have to be prepared, because physically when you're 20 you can go run around and be fine and then go play another game the next day. I think the mentality part of it is what you learn when you get older, concentrating for 90 minutes—not 70, not 60. Being older, I've tried to improve that part of my game. I want to make sure I'm mentally in the game 90 minutes and not 70 or 75.”

There is also the issue of leadership these days. Beasley is certainly one player with experience that few other Americans can match. He is the only American player on the U.S. roster to have won a knockout game at the World Cup and has more than 100 caps. He has played in the Premier League, the Eredivisie, Liga Mx, the Bundesliga, the Scottish Premier League, and has played in the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League.

He is easily one of the most decorated American players of all time but now is embracing the challenge of working with youngsters like DeAndre Yedlin, John Brooks, and Julian Green who are likely to be part of the team in the next cycle.

When he looks at these players, Beasley sees himself 12 years ago at the World Cup in South Korea and recalls the advice veterans gave to him back then.

“They said just play," Beasley said. "Enjoy it. That's what I tell the young guys now. Even when we're not on the field, enjoy the time, enjoy the experience. You never know when you'll get another World Cup. Four years is a lot in football. You never know what's going to happen in four years, so once you're in one, enjoy it, on and off the field.”

“Every World Cup is different,” he added. “But at the same time, it's been great to be a part of every single one. There's one thing about U.S. teams—we never give up. We always fight, we have a great sprit among our teams, we're all great friends, and I think that bodes well on the field as well. That part of it never fails.”

Beasley's experience with the national side gives him a different level of perspective on the fan support as he well. Yes, the die-hards traveled to South Africa in 2010, Germany in 2006, and South Korea in 2002. But now American fans are showing up in much bigger numbers and outshouting opponents' supporters in Brazil.

Beasley has seen passionate fans during his time as a player—at Old Firm games in Scotland or Manchester derbies in England. The growing support he sees now for the U.S. gives him an emotional sense of accomplishment as he looks back on his impressive international career.

“The fans have been great,” Beasley said. “We've always had a good fan base, now more than ever. They really believe in our team. It makes it a little easier for us to go out in play. They believe in us, they want us to do well. They're with us when we lose, they're with us when we win, and they've always been behind us.

"They're some of the best fans I've played in front of, including club teams. To have so much support here in Brazil has been amazing.”

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