BALTIMORE (AP) — DaMarcus Beasley was content with his December decision to retire from the U.S. national team.
“I have a 16-month-old daughter now, Lia, and I wanted to watch her grow,” the 33-year-old defender said. “If I had went to that January camp, if I wouldn’t have retired, I would have missed her first steps. And those are things that I didn’t want to miss.”
Now he’s back with the Americans, who play Jamaica on Wednesday in Atlanta for a berth in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final. U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann called him last month, when the U.S. was in Europe for exhibitions at the Netherlands and Germany.
“He left me voice mail. I figured it was just about, how you doing? What’s going on?” Beasley said one afternoon at the team hotel in Baltimore. “I didn’t think I would ever receive that call, but it’s a call that definitely was exciting.”
In his second season with Major League Soccer’s Houston Dynamo, he had hoped to get away for a day to visit one of the Beasley National Soccer School’s camps in Indiana, Ohio or Michigan. Instead, he reported for the knockout rounds after Klinsmann added him to the roster along with forward Alan Gordon and midfielder Joe Corona. Beasley used FaceTime on the bus back from the practice field Friday to keep in touch with some of his campers.
“I asked them who they wanted to see that was on the bus,” he explained. “Obviously, Michael Bradley. They want to see Clint Dempsey. They want to see Kyle Beckerman. They love the Rasta hair. They got on FaceTime and talked to the kids.”
Born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Beasley won the Silver Ball as the U.S. finished fourth at the 1999 FIFA Under-17 World Championship, where Landon Donovan was selected top player. He made his national team debut and went on to score 17 goals in 121 international appearances and become the first American to play in four World Cups.
At the club level, he was the first American to reach the European Champions League semifinals, with PSV Eindhoven against AC Milan in 2005.
“DaMarcus has been on the national team forever, and as soon as he walks in the room demands instant respect,” goalkeeper Brad Guzan said. “All the boys, they love when he’s in, obviously.”
Beasley won Gold Cup titles in 2002, ’05, 07 and ’13 and is hoping to add a fifth this week. He did not play in Saturday’s 6-0 rout of Cuba because of a calf injury. Players say his energy and smile are infectious.
“Maybe not the biggest talker, but when he has something to say, he says it, and guys listen,” American captain Bradley said. “When he walks in the door, it’s a lift for everybody. We can always use his quality on the field, in terms of on the left side, whether it’s as a left back, as a left midfielder. His speed, his quickness and his football — he has a football brain.”
A speedy midfielder for most of his career, Beasley had not played left back for the national team in four years before he was inserted there by Klinsmann for the Snow Clasico World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica in March 2013.
If Beasley starts at left back in the Gold Cup, Klinsmann could shift Fabian Johnson to right back or move Johnson to midfield.
“The last like probably four years, I played every game like it was my last,” Beasley said. “The way I train, the way I go about the games, my whole mindset is that I play every one like it’s my last.”
Klinsmann wanted Beasley’s arrival to shake up the younger players.
“Obviously, the other ones are not stupid and know, OK, Beas is coming back. Beas is not coming back to sit on the bench,” Klinsmann said. “So it’s now up to the younger ones to prove a point.”
Beasley has a different youthful player to think about. Could Lia make the U.S. roster for the 2030 FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup?
“She does kick the ball around,” he said with a smile. “She’s running and kicking the ball a little. So, yeah, she can definitely be ready for the U-17 national team.”
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.