Beasley ready to battle for World Cup spot

Beasley ready to battle for World Cup spot

U.S. Men's National Team

Beasley ready to battle for World Cup spot

DaMarcus Beasley (JohnToddISI)

Photo by John Todd/ISIphotos.com

  

By FRANCO PANIZO

As far as resumes go, there aren't many better on the U.S. national team than DaMarcus Beasley's. Two World Cup appearances, 90 national team caps and UEFA Champions League experience over the course of a decade is the kind of career most players could only dream of having.

As good as Beasley's resume is, it still won't guarantee him a place in the 2010 U.S. World Cup roster. Beasley will be battling against players much younger than him, with far less experience, but the 27-year-old winger still has a lot to prove if he is going to make Bob Bradley's 23-man roster.

"It's a different situation for myself, being the outside guy looking in," Beasley said. "I'm out here working hard and trying to get my butt back in the team."

Beasley fell out of the national team picture after a terrible run of form that also came after a disappointing European club season. He hit a lowpoint during the Confederations Cup, when he lazily turned the ball over on a play that led to Brazil's second goal in a 3-0 blowout.

He didn't play again for the national team in 2009, and didn't return to the fold until the team's 2-1 loss to the Netherlands, a match Beasley played well in. He nearly sparked a U.S. comeback against the Dutch and provided some evidence that he should still be considered a candidate for the World Cup.

Despite that performance, Beasley still enters camp as one of the players fighting for a seat on the plane to South Africa. He is battling with younger midfielders such as Alejandro Bedoya, Sacha Kljestan and Robbie Rogers. That's unfamiliar territory for a player who has started in the past two World Cups.

"Obviously there is a little more pressure (than in 2006)," said Beasley. "One, because I'm a veteran, and two, personally, because I haven't made the team.

"There are 30 guys in and and seven guys who are going to be disappointed not making the roster," Beasley said. "I could be one of them. I'm just putting my head down, working hard and trying to get my feet back into it quickly, trying to make it hard for Bob to pick the team."

Beasley also acknowledges that his past season with Rangers was anything but a success. He began the season out of favor with manager Walter Smith, but enjoyed a good run of form in December, when he scored two goals and assisted on four others in a span of five games and showed his trademark speed and shiftiness on the wing.

Beasley looked to be on his way to a strong season, but a thigh injury sustained in training in late December sidelined him. Beasley recovered in late February, but never regained a starting role. Hecontributed minimally in the second half of the season, playing in just five matches as Rangers claimed its second consecutive Scottish League title.

"I feel like after I got injured I never really got a chance to go back to my December form, I never got a chance to play again after that," said Beasley. "It was difficult, but it is what it is. I'm here and all that's behind me now and it's time to get ready for the World Cup and trying to get back to my good form. Hopefully the two games that we play before the World Cup will get me ready for that."

Making the 23-man roster for the World Cup isn't the sole goal for Beasley this summer. Beasley is a free agent and he is hoping a good showing with the U.S. this summer can help attract European suitors. A return to MLS is a possibility for the former Chicago Fire player, but it's not an option he favors.

"I wouldn't rule (MLS) out, but my first option is definitely Europe," Beasley said.

Where he goes will likely hinge on how he does at the World Cup, assuming he makes the team. He isn't a lock, but his experience gives him an edge. He provides veteran savvy and versatility, two facets to his game that he plans to bring to the pre-World Cup camp.

"I have leadership roles and qualities that I can give to the younger guys," said Beasley. "But at the same time I feel like I'm 20 years old again trying to make the squad and trying to get on the pitch to try and be on the final roster for the World Cup."

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