Postcard from Brazil
DaMarcus Beasley Won't Talk, CONCACAF on the Rise
Why won't the 32-year-old veteran talk to the press? Good question. And why are the American journalists covering the World Cup openly rooting for Mexico, Costa Rica, and Honduras? John Godfrey explains.
June 21, 2014
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—Jurgen Klinsmann, Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, and the rest of the United States men's national team arrived in Manaus, Brazil, last night. We're en route today, and I'm sending this dispatch from Guarulhos International Airport, a hub I'm getting to know as well as JFK or LaGuardia.
Here are a few behind-the-scenes observations from the press corps.
For whatever reason, DaMarcus Beasley is ducking the press down here. His J.D. Salinger act is not headline worthy, but it is a hot topic among the assembled horde of journalists.
It's not like any of these reporters are looking to write a hit piece on the Fort Wayne, Ind., native. Beasley is in demand, of course, because on Monday he appeared in his fourth consecutive World Cup. He started at left back, and has now lined up in all over the field on the game's biggest stage.
The questions on the tip of reporters' tongues—How does it feel to be the elder statesman of the team, Damarcus? How does the 2014 team compare to the other World Cup squads you've been on? What do you remember about the United States' historic win over Portugal in 2002?—are softballs, and would give the 32-year-old a chance to shine.
In the mixed zone after the Ghana match, Beasley ignored reporters' entreaties for a few words. He did tease Jermaine Jones for conducting interviews in English, but he didn't break stride in doing so.
So why won't he talk to the media? Why not take a victory lap and bask in the glow of being the team's elder statesman?
The U.S. Soccer Federation set up a media work room in our Sao Paolo hotel, and thanks to its strong wifi signal and sizable TVs, it has become the central meeting place and hub for banter. Amid the standard-issue journalistic chitchat—complaints, travel war stories, endless discussions of food—something interested has emerged: CONCACAF pride.
While there is absolutely no cheering for the U.S. in the press box, the media work room features plenty of not-so-subtle support for Costa Rica, Honduras, and, yes, Mexico.
When Honduras took a 1-0 lead against Ecuador Friday night, several scribes starting working on articles about the region's success, which looked to raise its record in Brazil to six wins, one tie, and one loss. After Ecuador tied up the match, a few groans escaped in the room. And when the South American team took a 2-1 lead that it would not relinquish, a few expletives were unleashed.
Regional pride is no doubt a contributing factor to the pro-CONCACAF vibe. Familiarity plays a role too—knowing the players from Major League Soccer and/or CONCACAF qualifiers provides writers a personal connection to the action that they might not get with, say, the Greece-Japan contest.
The most compelling reason to support CONCACAF teams, however, is that success on the World Cup stage elevates the entire region in the eyes of the international soccer community. It can lead to more World Cup slots at future tournaments, and it suggests that the United States' seven consecutive World Cup appearances might actually mean something beyond geographical good fortune.