STANFORD, Calif. – Stanford’s raucous marching band blaring behind him outside the stadium, DaMarcus Beasley sat in a golf cart hydrating after another long day of World Cup training.
And what a day for the veteran U.S. defender and Fort Wayne native. When seven other American players were cut Thursday, Beasley made the roster for a fourth World Cup.
Coach Jurgen Klinsmann surprised his players with the timing of his announcement. Beasley could become the first American to play in four World Cups. While midfielder Claudio Reyna and goalkeeper Kasey Keller made four rosters, Reyna played in only three tournaments and Keller two.
If you have that will and desire and that confidence in yourself that you belong in this group of players, that’s half the battle, Beasley said. The other half is actually going out and doing it.
Landon Donovan, the most accomplished American player in the history of men’s soccer, will not get the chance to play in his fourth World Cup.
The 32-year-old attacker, who set the national team record for goals and assists while winning five titles in Major League Soccer, was cut along with defenders Brad Evans, Clarence Goodson and Michael Parkhurst, midfielders Joe Corona and Maurice Edu and forward Terrence Boyd.
I was looking forward to playing in Brazil and, as you can imagine, I am very disappointed with today’s decision, Donovan said in a statement posted on Facebook. Regardless, I will be cheering on my friends and teammates this summer, and I remain committed to helping grow soccer in the U.S. in the years to come.
Beasley would be in rare company if he plays one of the Americans’ first-round games against Ghana, Portugal and Germany. Only about two dozen men’s players have seen the field in four or more World Cups.
Beasley, who turns 32 Saturday, has shifted from midfield to left back with the national team and is part of a relatively inexperienced defense. For the first time since 1990, the U.S. heads to the tournament with no center backs with World Cup experience.
You take the game in a different light. Now that I’m 31, I wish I would have known what I know now when I was 20. It would have made things a lot easier. But, at the same time, that’s what you do when you’re 20 – 20, you just want to run around and play and you don’t care what happens, Beasley said. Now, you look at the game in a different way. I’m still enjoying the game. For me, just being confident in your ability as well. If you’re confident in yourself, no one can teach that. Klinsmann can’t teach that, the Bruce Arenas, the Bob Bradleys, no one can teach that confidence that you instill in yourself.
Yet Beasley is too busy to contemplate his place in the history of U.S. soccer. That reflection, he promises, will come during retirement.
For now, Beasley is eager to prove he should be starting for the June 16 opener against Ghana in Natal. He started five of the six U.S. matches during last summer’s run to the CONCACAF Gold Cup, also serving as captain.
Beasley is among five players on the roster with World Cup experience – the fewest for the Americans since they returned to soccer’s showcase in 1990 after a 40-year absence.
Beasley plays for Puebla and is the only player from a Mexican club. Klinsmann bypassed Puebla teammate Michael Orozco, Tijuana’s Edgar Castillo and Joe Corona, and Tigres’ Jose Torres.
Donovan, 32, was bypassed in favor of Aron Johannsson and Chris Wondolowski, who joined Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey as the forwards.
Just six players return from the 2010 team: goalkeepers Tim Howard and Brad Guzan; midfielder Michael Bradley; forwards Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey; and Beasley.
Beasley and Donovan were teammates on the U.S. team that finished fourth in the 1999 FIFA Under-17 World Championship.
Landon is my brother. I’ve known Landon since I was 15. We’ve been through a lot together, Beasley said. To not have him there is difficult.
Klinsmann put off discussing the Donovan decision until today’s news conference. Asked whether he agonized over it, he said a little bit of time.
Donovan, the American record holder with 57 international goals, was gone by the time the roster was announced.