May 27, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; United States defender DaMarcus Beasley (7) reacts after a call during the first half against Azerbaijan at Candlestick Park. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

DaMarcus Beasley: From MLS to Europe and Back Again

The first time I ever saw DaMarcus Beasley play in person was at the 2002 World Cup in the U.S. opener against Portugal. Both Beasley and Landon Donovan stood out that day as young talents who looked extremely exciting. Donovan was the more technical of the two while Beasley just got up and down the field with explosive pace.

Both players looked like they would become stars. Donovan lived up to expectations and became arguably the best player America has produced to date. Beasley never really became a star in the true sense of the word, fading in and out of the national team and rarely featuring at the club level due in large part to a career filled with injuries.

Jun 7, 2014; Jacksonville, FL, USA; United States defender DaMarcus Beasley (7) against the Nigeria during the first half at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Somehow, however, Beasley always seemed to be back in consideration come World Cup time and has been a part of every World Cup since 2002.

From a club standpoint, after a solid career with the Chicago Fire, Beasley’s move to Europe came in 2004. Guus Hiddink, who saw Beasley first hand in 2002 as manager of the Korean national team, brought him to PSV Eindhoven to ostensibly replace Arjen Robben who was on the move to Chelsea. This provides some perspective of how highly thought of Beasley was at the time.

Beasley got off to a great start in the Netherlands, including becoming the first American player in the semi-finals of Champions League. He was an important part of hthe 2005/2006 PSV team that won the Eredivisie title.

His second season with PSV was not quite as good. He missed time and made only nine starts. A drunk driving incident hampered him off the field and damaged his reputation.

When Guus Hiddink left PSV following the 2005/2006 season, Beasley found himself surplus to requirements under his new manager and was shipped out to Manchester City on loan. This was Manchester City pre-Arab money, a mid-table club that was in only its 5th season back in the Premier League.

Beasley struggled to settle in with the club due to injuries. Once he did begin to play, his time with the club was largely forgettable.  He made only 11 appearances for Manchester City – 7 as a substitute – but did manage to score 3 goals.

Beasley’s next stop was Rangers of the Scottish Premier League. Over 4 seasons with Rangers, Beasley rarely played. As was the case with the latter part of his time at PSV and early in his Manchester City time, Beasley was plagued with injuries. Still, he rounded into form in late 2009/early 2010 and made the World Cup squad. He made one appearance as a substitute in South Africa.

Post World Cup, Beasley signed with Hannover in the Bundesliga where he lasted a year, seeing the pitch only 4 times as a substitute.

After 7 seasons in Europe, only 1 of which could be deemed as truly successful, Beasley made the move to Puebla in Liga MX in 2011. For the first time since the 2005/6 season, Beasley was finally a regular again. As a result of getting regular playing time, he worked his way back into the national team reckoning.

While Beasley had appeared as a left back under Bob Bradley, Jürgen Klinsmann made him a full time left back from March 2013. At times, the experiment looked worrisome given that Beasley is not a natural defender. As a midfielder, he was attack oriented; tracking back to defend was never really his forte. Still, the transition extended his career with the national team and likely as a club player as well.

Over the past year, Beasley has looked more comfortable at the left back spot. He still has his moments of calamitous defending, but he is a weapon going forward. His pace is not what it once was, slowed by a number of lower body injuries, but he always had pace to burn so a slower DaMarcus Beasley is still faster than many players.

When Beasley lines up for the Houston Dynamo for the first time, it will have been just over 10 years since his last MLS appearance for the Chicago Fire. Welcome home, DeMarcus Beasley.

Tags: DaMarcus Beasley Houston Dynamo

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