Welcome to Fire20, our weekly series celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Chicago Fire Soccer Club by making deep dives into the team’s history. This week we link up again with beloved former Fire and resurgent USMNT defender DaMarcus Beasley.
If you haven’t heard already, the United States Men’s National Team played a couple of World Cup qualifying matches over the last seven days. And called up to the squad were multiple current and former Chicago Fire players (or transfer targets).
Perhaps the most surprising call-up for the USMNT was one-time Fire defender DaMarcus Beasley.
DMB is going to turn 35 in May, and, to be frank, hasn’t exactly looked great since returning to MLS with the Houston Dynamo in 2014. So his most recent call-up may be nothing more than Bruce Arena’s attempt to have a been-there, done-that veteran in the locker. Or, maybe the he’s seeing something we all aren’t.
Anyways, this column isn’t about the USMNT, nor is it about 34-year-old DaMarcus Beasley. Instead, I want to focus on the baby-faced assassin that was DMB while he was playing for the Fire. So let’s dive right in.
The Fire acquired Beasley, like so many other players that have proven crucial to early Fire history, in a trade with the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2000. The signing came after he starred in the 1999, U17 World Cup in New Zealand. The IMG Academy product received the Silver Ball, or the second-best player of the tournament, for his performances down-under. Finishing runner-up only to teammate Landon Donovan. (Maybe you’ve heard of this guy,)
Beasley, who hadn’t yet made a professional appearance following the tournament, got his chance with the Fire. Having originally signed with MLS in 1999, the then-rookie was allocated to LA. Then the Galaxy traded his rights to Chicago in return for a picks in both the 2000 and 2001 Super Drafts, a move that was incredible for his career.
During his four and a half seasons in Chicago, Beasley was one of the first names put on the team-sheet. He appeared in 98 matches for the Men in Red, making 88 starts, and recorded a whopping 8219 minutes with the club.
And let’s not forget the fact that he was as much an attacking stud as he was a defensive one. During his time with the Fire, DMD recorded 14 goals and 20 assists. Not too shabby considering his was listed as a left back.
What was it that made the American international so effective as a player? A few things were at work here.
First, DMB was stunningly quick. In the early 2000s, you would have been hard-pressed to find an MLS player that was faster than him. He could go the length of the pitch in the blink of an eye, and then be back to where he started in another. The pure athleticism he possessed, glimpses of which we still see today, put him a step above many other MLS players at the time.
Secondly, Beasley is left-footed. This might seem like a peculiar idea, but hear me out. We’ve already covered that he was lightening quick. Now, put him into his role as a left back. Combine the two things, and you’ve found yourself with a player that could sprint the length of the pitch, whip a cross into the box and make a recovery run faster than you can say “Hot Time in Old Town.” Those are pretty neat skills to have, especially when you pair them with players like his brother, Jamar Beasley, and the likes of Eric Wynalda, Hristo Stoitchkov and Ante Razov.
Finally, the Fire starlet was simply a smart player. From the beginning of his career, DMB has always been able to time a tackle. Or to ping a ball through tight spaces. Or to know when to dribble the ball to the corner flag. Beasley’s soccer IQ is maybe his best quality, and it has shown throughout his career. He has worn the armband for the USMNT on numerous occasions, including for the 2013 Gold Cup championship.
Ultimately, season after season of impressive on-field performances resulted in Beasley’s move away from the Fire. On July 19, 2004, he was sold to Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven for a transfer fee of $2.5 million ($3.2 million today). A pretty sizable fee for an MLS player at the time.
Beasley was a tremendous servant to the club. In his four and a half seasons with Chicago, the Fire won three major trophies, and some of the greatest stories in club history were written. Here’s hoping that the Brandon Vincents of today can find some DMB like qualities during their stints with the club.