DENVER – Is DaMarcus Beasley the US national team’s answer at left back? He’s more than willing to give it a try.
The longtime US veteran told media before the team’s final workout of the week that if he’s called upon by head coach Jurgen Klinsmann to fill the void on the backline, he’ll gamely chip in.
“I can play wherever,” Beasley said on Thursday, a day ahead of the team’s World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park (10 pm ET; ESPN/UniMas, Live Chat on MLSsoccer.com). “Wherever Jurgen wants to put me, I feel comfortable.”
With left back incumbent and Hoffenheim pro Fabian Johnson left off the roster due to injury, Klinsmann is left with minimal options to occupy the spot at left back. He called San Jose Earthquakes All-Star defender Justin Morrow into camp to help fill the hole there and could swap Real Salt Lake’s traditional right back Tony Beltran to the left, or he could pull a stunning surprise and drop the semi-healthy Brek Shea into the spot in a pinch.
Morrow played left back in a scoreless draw against Canada in January for his first career USMNT appearance, but Beasley, who with 97 appearances is the most capped player on the roster, could get the call based on his experience alone. He’s appeared in 26 World Cup qualifiers and could join an exclusive club if he appears against Costa Rica.
An appearance Friday would mean Beasley has appeared in at least one USMNT match each of the past 13 years, joining Marcelo Balboa, Landon Donovan, Cobi Jones, Kasey Keller, Claudio Reyna and Earnie Stewart as the only players to do so.
Frankie Hejduk holds the record with at least one appearance in 14 straight years.
“He’s an option everywhere,” Klinsmann said of Beasley. “He’s always there when you need him, and he’s always there for the team. … He can play midfield, he can play left back if we want him to play left back. He can play all over the place.”
Beasley hasn’t played left back for the US in more than three years – his last appearance there came in a 3-1 loss in a World Cup qualifier in Costa Rica in June 2009, when the Ticos scored two goals in the first 12 minutes of the match.
He also logged a full 90 minutes at left back in a 3-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago in April 2009.
“We embrace the pressure here,” Beasley said. “We’re at home, we need the three points. And it’s a very important match, even if it’s very early in the tournament. Everyone knows in qualifying, you need to win your home games, 100 percent. Tomorrow is no different.”
If Beasley does switch to left back it leaves a potential whole in the midfield that will likely be filled by Sporting Kansas City’s Graham Zusi, the Houston Dynamo’s Brad Davis or, as was the case during the team’s loss on Honduras last month, Seattle Sounders forward Eddie Johnson.
Shea, who when healthy would be the easy choice as the starting left midfielder, said earlier this week he’s unsure if he can give 90 minutes while still recovering from offseason foot surgery.
“Brek is trying really hard to get into a rhythm, and we evaluate that in every session,” Klinsmann said. “And you can see that he’s not played full games, so we keep that in mind.”