CLEVELAND – When he took the field in the US national team’s 4-2 loss to Belgium, DaMarcus Beasley became just the 13th player in the history of the program to reach the 100-cap mark. It’s a feat even his Belgian opponents applauded in the pregame ceremony honoring his achievement.
But given all the highs (a first US cap at age 18 and a run to the UEFA Champions League semifinals) followed by all the lows (injury-stricken spells that dominated his late 20s) did he ever think he would reach the milestone?
“It got a little hazy around 93, 94,” he recalled of the period from 2009 to 2013 when he made just a handful of substitute appearances for the US. “Up until 86, 87, I was good. After that, it went sour. I take credit in that. It wasn’t a smooth road for me, getting 100 caps. I had some ups, I had some downs, but I’m still here trying to fight for a spot. That’s what I’m here to do, and I’m going to push the young guys to make them push me out of the lineup again.”
And cheered on by nearly 20 friends and family members, Beasley gave head coach Jurgen Klinsmann plenty to think about as he makes his upcoming selections, acquitting himself well against Belgium’s talented attack and getting forward to good effect, ending up with Budweiser Man of the Match honors as the best US player on the night.
Even more remarkable about the achievement is the fact that Beasley has experienced the 2013 renaissance that led to his century cap mark while playing on the left side of defense, a far cry from the left wing and later the forward positions where he has found so much success over his club an international career.
So is it time to start calling him a left back?
“You’ll have to ask Jurgen that,” Beasley said after a quick hesitation and smile. “He knows that if he needs me to play left back, I’ll play it, but they know. They watch me every week in Mexico, they know I’m not a left back, I play forward for Puebla.
“At the same time, I’m happy to do it. If he’s confident enough to put me at left back, I’m confident enough to play it. If I have to play left back the rest of my career with the national team, I’m going to play left back.”
The confidence Klinsmann has in Beasley in that position is evident not only from the fact that the 30-year-old has now started three straight games for the US there – including the now-legendary World Cup qualifier at the Estadio Azteca in March – but simply from his assessment of his player’s mentality and performance on Wednesday night.
“He’s just so simple in focusing on his job. He knows, ‘My role is to keep my side clean there and go forward when there’s an opportunity and to help the guys wherever I can,’” Klinsmann enthused. “No matter if you’re 4-1 down, he still is going, he still is confident, he still wants to make something happen. I think he played very good, even if it’s a defeat, but he still played a very good 100th cap.”