DaMarcus Beasley was a United States youth team star. He was a four-time Gold Cup winner. He was the first Americans to play in four World Cups. And was is the key word in it all, because the man from Fort Wayne, Ind., has retired from international play.
After 14 years with the U.S. senior team, Beasley has called it quits. He will continue to play at the club level, where he is currently with the Houston Dynamo, but the 32-year-old will never pull on the U.S. shirt again.
Beasley announced his retirement on Instagram, where his caption read:
Where do I start? Honestly I never thought this day would come, representing my country has been the greatest thing I've done in my career. Everytime I've pulled on OUR colors I tried to represent myself, my family and my country with the utmost respect.(and obviously tried to win) With that being said, I have officially retired from the U.S. Nat'l team. I've been blessed to be apart of the ussf family for 17yrs. I have so many memories from when I started with the U-15 nat'l team all the way to the men's team. I've met so many great ppl along the way I wouldn't know where to start. To all my coaches and teammates, I just want to say thank you, thank you for making me the player I am and the man I will be in the future. I will never forget all the games, friendships, memories we all shared. One thing I hope you all will say about me is that I was a good teammate and ALWAYS left everything on the field when I played. And lastly I want to thank ALL the fans that have supported me and the U.S. Team, without you guys we wouldn't be where we are today! Thank you all!!!
Beasley had a bit of a strange international career. He was praised early on as a part of the inaugural U-17 residency academy team and a key player at the 1999 FIFA Youth Championship, where he won the Silver Ball. He, along with Landon Donovan, parlayed that into a spot on the 2002 World Cup team, where he starred despite being just 20 years old.
That earned him a move to PSV Eindhoven, where he replaced Arjen Robben. Beasley wasn't quite Robben, but he was an excellent player for the club, starting regularly and becoming the first American to play in the Champions League semifinals, where he put in two good matches, only to see PSV eliminated by AC Milan on away goals. Still, he scored four goals in the competition to lead the team.
Beasley then struggled with injuries and was dogged by concerns about his actions off the field. He bounced from Manchester City to Rangers to Hanover, failing to make the same impact as he did at PSV. His play for the U.S. also slipped and he was pushed to the edges of the team.
For a player who was setting up to be the most successful American to ever play in Europe and a superstar for the national team, Beasley's fall was stunning. He was ready to be written off.
But Beasley resurrected his career, and in Mexico of all places. He signed with Puebla, where he became a good player for the Liga MX club. And as he re-established himself at the club level, he did the same for the U.S. Amazingly, he did it as a left back with the Americans, a position change nobody expected and nearly everyone questioned, but it worked.
Under Jurgen Klinsmann, Beasley became the U.S. team's ' first choice left back. At the 2014 World Cup, he was fantastic. And all the while, he drew praise as a team leader, even captaining them at the 2013 Gold Cup. It was an amazing turn for Beasley, who was once written off and instead became a key cog and leader for an increasingly younger team at a new position.
Beasley is a historic player for the U.S. Whether it's because he played in four World Cups, played in the Champions League semifinals or has scored more Champions League goals than any other American, Beasley's place in U.S. Soccer lore is secure.
Now, Beasley is walking away. We got used to a U.S. team without Beasley thanks to his mid-career swoon, but it will still be strange not to see him on the squad. That may be because of the memories of the bleach-blonde youngster, the speedy winger at the 2002 World Cup, his play for PSV or even his resurrection as a left back and leader. Beasley has been a lot of different players for the U.S. and meant a lot of different things to the national team, but he has always been there.
Beasley won't be around anymore. At least not for the U.S. He's stepping away, and after 14 magnificent, frustrating and admirable years, there is only one thing left to say -- thank you.