USA national team player Beasley’s best memories

 Only USA national team player to play in four FIFA World Cups

Silver Ball winner at the 1999 U-17 World Cup

Beasley tells some World Cup qualifying stories and gives his views on the current USMNT

DaMarcus Beasley was one of the first names on the USA team-sheet from the moment he sprung on to the scene at the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan™, just days after celebrating his 20th birthday. 

USA national team player Beasley’s best memories

An astonishingly consistent, two-decade career saw him go on to become the only US men's national team player to feature in four World Cup tournaments and in five qualifying cycles for the competition.

Beasley retired from the game at the end of the 2019 Major League Soccer (MLS) season. In a World Cup qualifying week that sees USA begin their road to Qatar 2022, caught up with a player who knows everything about that preliminary journey and to learn how the transition to his post-career life has been going.

“It hasn’t been easy. I won’t sugar coat it,” Beasley admitted. “I knew when I retired I wanted to take some time away from the game.”

The Fort Wayne, Indiana native, who became a co-owner of newly-formed, lower-division club Fort Wayne FC last year, now gets to spend more time with his daughter, who was born just before Brazil 2014, when he was playing for Puebla in Liga MX. 

“I missed training to be with her at her birth and the next day we had a game and I actually scored!" he said. "She was already giving me luck and strength and she didn’t even know it. Her mom would send me pictures (when I was in Brazil) and it really made me feel whole. But now that I’m retired, she’s done with football; she’s all about gymnastics, swimming and dance!”

As a kid himself, Beasley’s path to football was pre-determined and non-negotiable in many ways as he followed in the footsteps of his highly-talented older brother Jamar.

“I wanted to be like him," said DaMarcus. "He was a beast back then. A lot of people don’t know but he was the first player to be signed straight out of high school in MLS in 1998.”

Jamar played on the USA U-20s in 1999 with the likes of Tim Howard, Taylor Twellman and Carlos Bocanegra before going on to have a successful futsal career. Later that same year, DaMarcus was with the U-17 national team in New Zealand, where he won the adidas Silver Ball award, helping the US finish fourth. 

World Cup qualifying reflections

His success at youth level ended up translating into the senior set-up, where he became one of the most decorated players the country has ever produced, winning 126 caps. World Cup qualifying made up a significant portion of his national team career, so what does he remember most from those cycles?

“I remember qualifying the most! (laughs) Every time we did, it was great, but the one time we didn’t… well, we don’t have to talk about that. You always remember the game that you qualify. That feeling is indescribable. It was hard. 

“People say Concacaf is one of the easiest regions to get out of, but people don’t understand how difficult it was. Concacaf makes you tough. Going to places like Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico and Honduras; it was hot, the grass felt as high as your knees. 

“Just from getting off the plane, going to the hotel, there would always happen to be some kind of festival the day before the game. Always. Your phones would be ringing. There would be a party outside the hotel, trying to make it hard for us to sleep. Sometimes we were put on the 13th floor for bad luck. Before the team had its own chef, the food wasn’t great. It was difficult. 

"Every country and player wants to play in a World Cup. That’s the dream. Sometimes we had to play ugly football to win a game. Every game was a battle. Along with Mexico, every side wants to beat the US. The team we would see on film was never the same we would see on the pitch.

“The whole country was behind each team we faced, from the airport staff to the hotel staff to the taxi drivers, the president; they’re all behind the team. That’s real. That’s what we faced as a team. Mentally it was tough but you had to get in and get dirty sometimes. It’s hard to explain it all and understand what it was like unless you actually experienced it.”

During his time with the team the US had a lot of joy and found success playing in Jamaica. Beasley remembers DJ and reggae artist Beenie Man played before a match. “We were warming up and he’s singing and rapping in the background… that was pretty cool. The fruit we had there, too, tasted way better than what we get in the US!”

Thoughts on new generation of USMNT

The USA have begun their Qatar 2022 qualifying journey with one of Beasley’s former team-mates Gregg Berhalter at the helm. The format for 2022 is expanded with each nation in the Concacaf 'Octagonal' playing 14 matches, seven home and seven away. He’s optimistic about the team’s prospects. 

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