Houston Dynamo continue to marvel at the ageless DaMarcus Beasley

DaMarcus Beasley - Signing Autographs - 2017

HOUSTON -- Philippe Senderos recalls the young DaMarcus Beasley as a pesky winger, lithe and lively.

They were on opposing sides in 2007 as Senderos’ Arsenal beat Manchester City 3-1 in the English Premier League.

On a season-long loan from PSV Eindhoven, Beasley scored City’s only goal at Emirates Stadium, meeting a defense-splitting pass and coolly guiding a low first-time shot into the far corner. He later put the ball in the net again only for his lob over goalkeeper Jens Lehmann to be ruled out for offside.

Now the two former internationals are Houston Dynamo teammates and play together in defense, where some things have changed, and some haven't.

“Of course with age his position has changed so he’s moved back, to left back, but he still tries to go forward every now and then,” Senderos said. “I don’t notice him being slower.”

When Beasley returned to MLS in 2014 after a decade in Europe and Mexico, he came back to a bigger, better league that looked very different from when he was a rising star with the Chicago Fire. He’d evolved, too: from winger to defender, relying less on his pace and more on his intelligence.

It’s an adjustment that’s helped prolong his career to the extent that one month before his 36th birthday he’s the Dynamo captain and an integral part of a backline that had the third-best defensive record in last year’s Western Conference.

“He’s still doing the job, he’s still running, still going forward. Sometimes he looks like he’s 20 years old. So that’s important. And while he feels that way, we can use him,” said Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera. “He’s smart. He knows how to manage himself. We don’t need to tell him. He pushes himself when he has to push, and he’s ready to play almost every game.”

Beasley is five matches away from his hundredth league appearance for Houston (including playoffs), though he’s contributed only two goals and two assists, underlining how his priorities have evolved. The only game he’s missed this year was the result of a suspension stemming from a rare disciplinary issue: a red card for denying a goalscoring opportunity in a 2-0 loss to the New England Revolution on March 31.

Houston’s young attackers get most of the headlines and Beasley, who declined an interview request, seems happy to keep it that way. But he is now the second-longest serving player on the current roster, behind Boniek Garcia, and Cabrera values his experience as the second-year head coach continues to reshape the squad.

“Everyone respects him," Cabrera said. "Not only because of what he does on the field, the way he talks the way he plays, but also in the locker room he’s always giving advice, he’s always talking correctly with the guys. He doesn’t make a lot of noise because he’s not that type of guy, but when he talks they all pay attention, and that’s why he’s our captain.”

Houston Dynamo continue to marvel at the ageless DaMarcus Beasley - https://league-mp7static.mlsdigital.net/images/Damarcus%20Willis.jpg

Houston goalkeeper Joe Willis, front left, suggests Beasley, front right, should be in the discussion of who is the greatest American player of all-time | USA Today Images

One important factor: when Beasley talks it might very well be in Spanish. He is fluent courtesy of his three-year spell with Puebla in Mexico, and that’s a notable asset as Houston’s roster has grown more international in recent years: six of the starting XI in the 5-1 win over Toronto FC on April 21 hail from Spanish-speaking countries.

“It’s huge,” said goalkeeper Joe Willis. “English speakers are trying to learn Spanish, Spanish speakers are trying to learn English. But when you have someone who’s fluent in both in makes everything a lot easier.”

Just before arriving in Texas in July 2014, Beasley started for the USMNT in that summer’s World Cup. After a 126-cap, 17-goal international stint, the upcoming tournament in Russia will be the first without him since 1998.

“If you look at his career, the teams he’s played for and the amount of appearances he has, the successes that he’s had, I think he’s absolutely underrated,” Willis said.

“I think when they talk about the greatest American player of all-time, names like Donovan and Dempsey get thrown around and I think that’s because of the statistics, the goals," he continued. "Beas obviously is not there on the goals but to be able to go to four World Cups, I mean, that says everything you need to know about him.”