Another young U.S. and Major League Soccer talent has made the move to continue his career overseas, as the transfer of winger DaMarcus Beasley by the Chicago Fire to PSV Eindhoven of the Dutch Eredivisie (first division) was announced by the club on Thursday.
Beasley, 22, made 98 appearances with the Fire in his five seasons with the club, and his 48 points from 14 goals and 20 assists rank him as eighth all-time for the Fire. He was originally obtained in a trade with the Los Angeles Galaxy in exchange for first round MLS SuperDraft picks in 2000 and 2001.
"I'm very excited about joining PSV. It's a huge step for me and I'm looking forward to this great new challenge," said Beasley. "I'm thankful to Chicago and MLS for helping me develop as a player and for helping me in my transition to Europe. I want to thank the entire Fire organization, Peter Wilt, Dave Sarachan, Denis Hamlett, Daryl Shore, Craig Reynolds and all my teammates for all their support throughout the years and for helping me become a better professional."
Beasley has been a mainstay for Chicago in recent seasons and proved to be a constant attacking threat on the wing. He also gained myriad experience at the youth and full national team levels. He has already earned 36 caps for manager Bruce Arena's side, including three appearances at the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea/Japan, where he was the second-youngest player on the U.S. roster at 20 years of age.
"It is bittersweet having to say goodbye to DaMarcus," said Fire head coach Dave Sarachan. "He was the ultimate professional during his time in Chicago and will undoubtedly go down as one of the finest young players ever to suit up for the Fire. The time and opportunity to ply his trade overseas has arrived, and I wish nothing but the best for him as he continues his career in the sport of soccer."
Numerous team and individual trophies, awards and honors have gone the way of the Fort Wayne, Ind., native during his professional career. He helped the Fire reach MLS Cup 2003 and capture the Supporters Shield in the same year and was a major part of the Fire's two U.S. Open Cup championships in 2000 and 2003. Beasley picked up MLS All-Star selections each year from 2001-2004 and was named to the MLS Best XI last season.
On the international scene he was recognized as the 2001 U.S. Soccer Young Male Athlete of the Year and was awarded the Silver Ball at the FIFA World Youth Championships in 1999. Beasley also took home MVP honors from the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying tournament in 2001.
"DaMarcus came of age as a member of the Chicago Fire. He contributed significantly to two U.S. Open Cups, on Supporters Shield and a quarterfinal World Cup run during his Fire years," said Chicago Fire general manager Peter Wilt. "His professionalism and maturity were always well beyond his young age. DaMarcus is a first-class person and exemplifies the Fire's missionary qualities of integrity, dedication and leadership. We will miss him. We congratulate him and wish him much success."
With the move to PSV, Beasley becomes the third U.S. international to head to Europe from the Fire over the last two seasons. Goalkeeper Zach Thornton departed for Portugal to play for Benfica, while defender Carlos Bocanegra now makes his living playing for Fulham in the English Premier League. Beasley credits the Fire and MLS for his rapid progression to one of the top young players in the USA.
"When I first started, I was surrounded by players like [Hristo] Stoitchkov and [Peter] Nowak (now D.C. United head coach) and [Lubos] Kubik - former World Cup players - and training and playing with them everyday for over two years was a great experience for a young player like myself," Beasley said. "Now you have a lot of good, up-and-coming young American players and as a league it's become a lot harder. The play has definitely gotten better over the years."
Beasley is expected to depart for Holland immediately and will not be available for selection in Saturday's game against the MetroStars at Giants Stadium. With the departure of the talented young star, the Fire will be given a major player allocation to replace Beasley.
Jonathan Nierman is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Soccer or its clubs.