CHESTER, Pa. — Ninety minutes into his side’s eventual loss to Panama on Saturday afternoon, US men’s national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann turned to the bench in search of fresh legs — and used his final substitute on the USMNT’s most tenured player.
Houston Dynamo defender DaMarcus Beasley got the nod, entering the match for Omar Gonzalez at the end of regulation. Klinsmann gave him one last pat on the back, and the 33-year old took the pitch for extra time at left back.
Many in attendance understandably assumed it would be Beasley’s last appearance in a national team jersey. The former Puebla defender had retired from the USMNT in December 2014 after a storied career that saw him become the only male US international to appear in four World Cups. Klinsmann, however, needed a veteran influence ahead of this year’s Gold Cup and ended up coaxing Beasley out of retirement, convincing him to give it one last go.
On Friday, just 24 hours ahead of Saturday’s third-place match, Klinsmann implied that the encounter with Panama might serve as an impromptu testimonial to “Beas.”
"It looks like it comes to an end tomorrow, if he doesn't reconsider maybe,” Klinsmann said on Friday. "So we want to make it a special day for him.”
Klinsmann did leave the door open just a bit there, didn’t he? And after the match on Saturday, one which Beasley, unfortunately, ended by sending a penalty kick into the arms of Panama ‘keeper Luis Mejia, both Klinsmann and Beasley opened the door a bit wider.
“I don't know. I’m sure I’ll speak to Jurgen,” said Beasley. "It wasn’t the ending I wanted for me personally. We wanted it to end on a good note. It didn’t happen and I feel bad for the team, for the fans because I missed my penalty to lose the game. I just tweeted this is going to hurt for a while personally.”
“I think Beas is a guy that whenever he’s needed, he just wants to help,” Klinsmann told MLSsoccer.com after the match. "As I said the other day, he’s a giver. I said after [today’s] game, in the locker room, 'I don’t know if you can walk out like that. We might have to get you back in.'”
Beasley’s teammates responded to Klinsmann’s locker room comments with a round of applause, encouraging the defender to stay on board just a little longer.
The tournament may have played out a little bit differently for him had he not picked up an early knock in the days leading up to the US’ knockout round opener against Cuba. But that injury kept him off the pitch until the very end of the tournament, limiting his influence after he was called up following the group stage.
“I’m not gonna say I’m retired again,” Beasley concluded on Saturday. "I’m sure I’ll talk to Jurgen and see what he’s thinking for the short future. It depends on how I’m playing. I feel fine. I feel fit. I’m finally getting back from the little injury. But even throughout the season in Houston, I felt good. I don’t feel old. I feel fit and ready to play. If Jurgen wants to give me a call again, that’s a conversation that we’ll have. But I’m not going to say I’m retired again."