DaMarcus Beasley is once again playing a high level for his club team and must be strongly considered for a return to the US setup. Beasley’s comeback started with a good performance versus Sevilla in the Champions League last week, and has continued through a few good league performances this week. In Rangers’ 3-1 win over Dundee United on Tuesday, Beasley scored a goal and set up another.
Given the relative lack of depth and experience in the US player pool, I believe Beasley must be recalled, even if not fully fit or even playing regularly. Here is why.
- World Cup experience. A good 2002 World Cup followed up by a 2006 World Cup where he was less poor than the rest of the team, setting up Clint Dempsey’s goal versus Ghana and having his own wonder strike versus Italia disallowed.
- Champions League Experience: Beasley has scored more Champions League goals than all other Americans combined.
- Lack of depth in US pool at wide positions: The US continues to use central midfielders as wingers. The true wide play the USMNT previously received from the likes of Cobi Jones, Beasley and Eddie Lewis is a thing of the past with this group.
- Quality and Understanding: Beasley has an unusual chemistry with Landon Donovan, having played together since the U-17 level. Additionally, Beasley developed chemistry and understanding of Clint Dempsey’s game in 2006 and 2007. Dempsey makes more interesting and daring runs from both wide and advanced midfield position than any other American player. Beasley has proven repeatedly he can anticipate Dempsey’s movement in a way many other current US’ pool players cannot.
- Leadership: Beasley has been through the wars and has a work ethic second to none among American players. Bruce Arena, not long ago asked Landon Donovan to emulate Beasley’s training habits. With a relatively inexperienced team headed to South Africa, the leadership and veteran savvy of a Beasley could be critical.
Were the US a deeper team, with a large number of good options at the wide positions, I would recommend Beasley simply be monitored, for the time being. But the depth of the US pool is so shallow, and the success rate of our players in top European competitions so minimal, Beasley almost has to be called back in.
Sending untested players to South Africa could be a fatal mistake. For all the hype around the Confederations Cup, it is viewed in many circles as a glorified friendly tournament. While the US got through qualifying easily, the flaws that were exposed can be more easily taken apart by World Cup qualifying nations than by CONCACAF minnows.
Bottom Line: The US has not advanced as quickly as we would like (or as far the multi million $ price tag for development programs indicates we should have advanced) so experienced players cannot be easily discarded. It is even more useful when that player is beginning to find his form and regain his confidence.