GUADALAJARA, Mexico – Rewind 12 months. DaMarcus Beasley’s future was in doubt. He was on trial at Pachuca after starting just a dozen club league matches in the previous two seasons in Europe.
Would he find a landing spot in Mexico? Or would a return to MLS be in the cards?
You probably know what happened next: Beasley’s risky move to Puebla paid off, to a degree few would’ve predicted.
The 30-year-old’s fine form over the past year has led to a couple of offers for his services over the summer, but Beasley is set to stay in Puebla and looking to extend his contract with La Franja.
“I want to stay and I hope that we can reach an agreement soon so that I can stay more than a year, maybe two more years,” Beasley told local reporters recently. “I’m very excited about the opportunity.”
That makes Puebla fans very happy indeed. Beasley has become a key player in the team and a popular figure around town.
“Since Puebla got promoted in 2007, it has brought in lots of foreign players,” explained Poblanerias.com soccer journalist Toño Sánchez, who is based in Puebla. “Each season it gets rid of three and brings in another three, but when it signed Beasley and Luis García a year ago, it seems it has worked and the fans are very happy.”
But García jumped ship to Pumas UNAM and Uruguayan Jonathan Lacerda is off to Necaxa, leaving Beasley as what perhaps amounts to the reference point and bridge between last season’s team and the new look side for the Apertura 2012. So far, 12 reinforcements have been signed during the offseason and more are expected.
It wasn’t the easiest debut season in Mexico for Beasley, perhaps even more so than could be normally expected when moving to a foreign league. Puebla had a host of problems, from watching as Mexican tax authorities confiscated equipment to tardiness in paying players.
For Beasley personally, there was the “mordida” (bribe) incident when he published on his Twitter account that he had been the on the receiving end of the corrupt side of Mexican cops, provoking a stream of articles in the Mexican press.
But in general, the last 12 months have been excellent for the Fort Wayne, Ind., native, especially after the lost year in Germany with Hannover 96 during which he saw barely an hour of playing time, partly due to injury. It hasn’t gone unnoticed by locals.
“He adapted to the Mexican game and playing style very quickly,” said Milenio columnist Daniel Ortíz, who also contributes to the fan site Puebla FC Blog. “He’s one of the most important players in Puebla for his experience.”
Not being called into the recent US national team squad – something that raised a few eyebrows – could be a blessing in disguise as the three-time World Cup veteran looks to get the four more appearances that would take him to 100 caps.
But that could be a blessing as the snub from Jurgen Klinsmann has given Beasley both the chance to rest up back in the States and then join the team in its Acapulco-based preseason training camp in preparation for the club’s first game of the Apertura 2012 on July 20 away against Club Tijuana.
For fans of Beasley and La Franja, it's all good news.
Tom Marshall covers Americans playing in Latin America. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.