SAN DIEGO – At the end of the 2010-11 Bundesliga season, DaMarcus Beasley was at a crossroads in his career.
At that time, the newly minted US national team captain had finished a season with Hannover 96, where he struggled to see playing time, and it appeared his playing days in top leagues, as well as the national team, might be behind him.
“I think I played only three games in Germany. It was very tough. It was a down point in my career,” Beasley acknowledged Thursday during a press conference ahead of the US’ friendly Friday at Qualcomm Stadium against Guatemala (11 pm ET, NBC Sports Network, Live chat on MLSsoccer.com).
Looking for options, Beasley received an unusual offer, from Mexican club Puebla. Although many Americans of Mexican descent are currently playing in Liga MX, including Beasley’s US teammates Herculez Gomez, Edgar Castillo, Joe Corona, Michael Orozco Fiscal, and Jose Torres, it was an unusual move for a player who was not of Mexican heritage, not to mention a player with the distinguished resume Beasley had.
The versatile left-sided player took the challenge, though, signing with Puebla in June 2011.
“Going to Mexico was a risk,” Beasley said, “but at the same time, it was the type of football that I wanted to play. I enjoy playing passing, moving, possession football.”
Gomez, no stranger to Liga MX himself, agreed that Beasley’s move to Puebla was a risk.
“Americans aren’t the most endeared figures [in Mexico],” Gomez told MLSsoccer.com after training Thursday.
The move has paid dividends, however, as Beasley became a fixture in the lineup at Puebla the last two years and has indeed endeared himself to fans of La Franja. Additionally, he has returned to the national team, starting the recent World Cup qualifiers at left back, which had been a problem position under head coach Jurgen Klinsmann.
Beasley agreed the road less traveled had been successful, and in reflecting on his previous struggles, he noted, “It’s been a blessing in disguise, to be honest.”
Gomez seconded that assessment.
“Absolutely, without a doubt. I can 100 percent say that without his time in Mexico, who knows what would have happened [to Beasley’s career],” the forward said.
“To prove himself with those fanbases and become a key player on his team, and then coming to a new national team set-up and proving himself all over again, that’s amazing,” Gomez continued. “You don’t see too many guys do that, so he 100 percent deserves that armband.”
Although there is still work to do against Guatemala and in the Gold Cup, Beasley knows his decision to play for Puebla has been validated.
“I’m glad to be back, obviously being captain is something special, and being back in the national team the last few months has been great.”