It’s time. Sixteen years after his professional debut? The truth is, it’s way past time. We need to start giving DaMarcus Beasley his due as one of the greatest American soccer players of all time.
The U.S. men’s national team is currently preparing for its most important game since it was knocked out of the World Cup last summer, a Confederations Cup playoff against Mexico in October. In a press conference Tuesday, Jurgen Klinsmann didn’t hesitate when asked about his team selection.
“We need Beas against Mexico.”
From World Cup starter to international retirement to an essential part of the team’s most important game of the year: all in a 14-month span; all at 33 years old. And yet, when we talk about the team’s historical icons, Beasley rarely comes up.
Landon Donovan’s recent retirement sparked a conversation about who would make the ‘USMNT Mount Rushmore.’ Put more simply, who are the four biggest icons and contributors to the men’s national team? Many of the usual names were raised: Donovan, Friedel, Reyna, Lalas and Wynalda seemed most common.
But consider Beasley’s career. He’s fifth all-time in appearances for the U.S. men’s national team and tied for ninth all-time in goals, despite spending much of that time as a defender. He’s the only American and one of only 28 people ever to play in four (men’s) World Cups. He’s been a captain for club and country. He’s won the Gold Cup four times, and won the tournament’s Golden Boot once. In his eight-year European club career, he won four league titles and three domestic cups. He’s also won two U.S. Open Cups and a Supporter’s Shield in his time in MLS.
It’s an impressive career by any stretch. So why doesn’t Beasley get as much credit as his fellow internationals? The easy answer is the casual soccer fan puts an exaggerated emphasis on goals, and that is in part true. Donovan scored 57 of those wearing the red, white and blue; Beasley only 17. But there’s another level, perhaps a subliminal level, and it’s not fair to Beasley’s legacy.
When the 2014 World Cup roster was announced, there were two primary negative reactions. First, Landon Donovan – the team’s greatest ever player, who bailed the team out time and time again – was nowhere to be seen. But there was a second complaint — perhaps more a disappointment than an outrage — about what many perceived as an uninspiring roster. Outside of a few fringe players earmarked for development, it was an old squad. It was a list of names we’d seen countless times before. The youth revolution touted during Klinsmann’s hiring was overstated at best and nonexistent at worst. So the hand-wringing began. Are we doing enough to set our team up for the future? Is the game growing? Are we getting better?