COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – The US national team had to scramble to find an answer at left back this week, which is little surprise given the rotating cast of characters that have featured in the position over the past few years.
But in the blinding snow of suburban Denver on Friday night, veteran DaMarcus Beasley stepped up in a big way in the United States' 1-0 win over Costa Rica in a critical World Cup qualifier at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
“You look at DaMarcus Beasley,” Klinsmann said of Beasley in the postgame press conference. “It looked like he grew up in the snow.”
The 30-year-old veteran was asked by Klinsmann this week to fill the left back void vacated by Hoffenheim defender Fabian Johnson, who was left off the roster due to illness. The Indiana native provided perhaps a different kind of left back than US fans are used to seeing – the converted midfielder was unafraid to trek forward on the snow-covered field, delivering crosses and often assisting in the attack – but he was still effective on the other side of the ball, providing solid defense in Johnson’s absence.
“He stepped in in a big way tonight,” midfielder Michael Bradley told reporters postgame. “Obviously he’s been out of the team for a few games, but still in the big picture. DaMarcus is a veteran guy, a guy who’s been through it before. So when he comes in, his presence helps us. I thought DaMarcus was great tonight.”
Beasley hadn’t played left back for the US since June 2009, a span of nearly four years. But he said more than a decade’s worth of professional experience in MLS, Europe and Mexico served him well in making the transition.
“After the first day, [Klinsmann] just told me, ‘Beas, you’re playing at left back.’ That’s all he needed to say,” Beasley said. “I’ve been around. He knows that I’ve been around for a while. He doesn’t need to speak to me 10 minutes and tell me what I need to do and this and that. He said, 'Beas, you feel confident at left back?’ I said, ‘Yeah’. The conversation took literally 10 seconds, and that was it.”
READ: Armchair Analyst: Three things we learned from the USMNT's snowy win over Costa Rica
With Johnson still out, Beasley is expected to feature at left back once again when the US battles Mexico at the Azteca on Tuesday night, a location that is obviously no stranger to the Puebla man.
“I love Mexico,” said Beasley, who picked up his 98th career cap for the US on Friday night. “It got me back on my feet, got me back to where I am now. Hopefully, I can stay the next couple years in Mexico. I feel very confident, very comfortable down in Mexico.”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.