From the recently retired Kaká and the uncompromising figure of Germany’s Bastian Schweinsteiger, to the ongoing brilliance of New York City’s David Villa and countless former greats, to numerous to mention – everybody loves the MLS for its ability to source some of the finest foreign names in the whole of world soccer.
It’s what keeps the American game fresh, compelling and wholeheartedly absorbing for the growing legions of proud Major League Soccer fans all across the globe.
I am always impressed how quickly foreign #MLS players pick up English. I would just go home and play Playstation, never learn nothing.
— Richard Farley (@richardfarley) October 26, 2017
But whilst it remains somewhat captivating to discuss the ever-evolving influence of foreign stars playing in the US, perhaps we ought not to think of the current MLS scene without first properly considering the many prominent – and often partially overlooked – homegrown talents who have helped build Major League Soccer into what it is today.
Landon Donovan is a name that stands out almost immediately; the former talisman of the USMNT scored over 100 league goals whilst playing in Los Angeles. He tried his hand among both the German and English top flights with moderate success, securing hero status for his nation at numerous World Cups and international tournaments.
Next comes Clint Dempsey. The former Fulham and Tottenham Hotspur frontman proved both dependable and forceful whenever he was tasked with representing his homeland upon the global stage. Alongside Tim Howard, Michael Bradley and the relentless Brian McBride, Dempsey has done wonders for the American soccer scene across many a hard-fought season.
I salute you Landon Donavan, a real American hero 🇺🇸
— Greatness (@GreatnessTorres) October 11, 2014
Yet within such a well-versed mix of hardworking professionals and talented individuals, one long-term ambassador of the American game has seemingly flown under the radar in the eyes of many experts and soccer analysts.
He remains one of the most capped players to have represented the USA on the international scene, and is the only American to have played in a total of four World Cups. He made his debut for the USMNT over fifteen years ago at the tender age of 19 – and his name is DaMarcus Beasley.
Now, whilst DaMarcus Beasley is by no means the most celebrated or decorated American soccer player to have graced the beautiful game with his presence, the current Houston Dynamo defender nonetheless deserves recognition for everything he has achieved among the MLS and beyond.
After breaking onto the scene at the 1999 FIFA U17 World Championship and subsequently developing a starring role for himself with Chicago Fire, Beasley eventually wound up plying his trade all across Europe in a career that few North American soccer players have successfully replicated.
The left-footed wide-man amassed a certain knack for scoring well-taken goals throughout those early days among the MLS, but it was his string of impressive performances within the Dutch Eredivisie for PSV that really thrust him into the limelight as one of the most gifted American soccer stars of his generation.
Was thinking about DaMarcus Beasley's underrated Champions League achievements. No US field player has really come close.
— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) February 21, 2013
Beasley won successive league titles whilst plying his trade in Holland. He helped PSV go on to record a historic run all the way to the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League, before signing on the dotted line for Rangers F.C and repeating a similar string of domestic feats throughout his time in Scotland.
Equally effective both at left-wing as well as among a more defensive left-wing-back position, the high-flying USA international developed the nickname ‘Run-DMB’ as a result of his blistering pace and remarkably quick-feet. Such a skillset allowed Beasley to find the back of the net at a pretty consistent rate. He proved to be both quick and determined, providing regular assists for his teammates all across the final third.
The wide-man would proceed to star in both the German and Mexican leagues until the chance to re-join the MLS finally cropped up in the summer of 2014. DaMarcus Beasley can still be found doing what he does best at Houston Dynamo. Although his finest years remain behind him, the veteran maintains his place in the team with an all-round more mature and defensive head on his shoulders.
DaMarcus Beasley is out here playing with joints made out of 100% scar tissue, making kids half his age look stupid as heck. ❤️
— Pablo Maurer (@MLSist) October 31, 2017
Perhaps Beasley’s most standout moments have arrived on the international scene, however. He has more World Cup experience than any other American on the planet, whilst his multiple CONCACAF Gold Cup winners’ medals must also gain the recognition they deserve. Beasley finished the 2005 Gold Cup as the tournament’s leading goalscorer after all, an achievement that certainly brought a smile or two among the jubilant US supporters.
There have been many other MLS favourites to go on and star for their nation amid great hype and sensation of course, and no one is saying that DaMarcus Beasley remains one of the most naturally gifted American sportsman of all-time – but let’s be real here, this is a man who warrants acknowledgement and applause for his ongoing service to American soccer on the whole, regardless of the USA’s recent inability to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
Damarcus Beasley is an underrated pillar for the US Men's team. 5th all time on US list with 116 caps. Also, he's incredibly fast…
— Britt McHenry (@BrittMcHenry) June 10, 2014
He’s a proud veteran of the American game if ever we’ve seen one, yet even at the grand old age of 35 years old – who’s to say that DaMarcus Beasley is finished? Who’s to say that he doesn’t have a few more years of top-flight MLS action left in him?
The clock may be ticking, but from everything we know about DaMarcus Beasley and his mounting achievements upon the international scene, this is a man who seemingly doesn’t know just when to call it quits…