The way DaMarcus Beasley remembers it, there was zero chance it was going to happen.
On July 11, 2004, the U.S. Men’s National Team was set to face Poland at Soldier Field in Chicago. Thirty minutes after that match ended, Beasley’s club team, the Chicago Fire, was scheduled to take on the New England Revolution in the second match of a doubleheader.
Beasley, who was only 22 at the time, was already an absolute rockstar for both teams. There was no question he was going to start for Bruce Arena’s USMNT. But, the week before the match, while Beasley was training with the National Team, he reached out to Fire head coach Dave Sarachan with a crazy idea.
“I told him that I wanted to play in both,” Beasley told Hot Time in Old Town. “He said no, there’s no chance you’re going to play. So, I just kind of left it at that.”
In front of a 40,000 person crowd packed with Poland supporters, Beasley went 90 minutes for the U.S. in a 1-1 draw that saw Carlos Bocanegra bag an 89th minute equalizer.
After that match ended, Beasley pleaded with Sarachan once more about playing for the Fire in the second match.
“I told him ‘I feel fine. I feel like I could start.’ I truly said that! I said I feel like I could start, after playing 90 minutes,” Beasley remembered. “He’s like, there’s no way. He said ‘If you feel OK, and you’re sure, and I trust you, if you’re sure, then you can be on the bench, and if we need you, we can bring you in in the second half.’ And I was like, ‘Great, fine, perfect.’”
The U.S. and Fire were set up in two different locker rooms, so Beasley walked down the hall, where his club teammates clearly weren’t expecting to see him.
“They said ‘Beas, what the hell are you doing here?’ I wanted to play! That was me. I felt like I still had something more to give after the 90 minute game, and I wanted to be there for the Fire and play,” Beasley said.
Beasley remembers changing out of his U.S. kit, putting on his Fire gear, and walking out back out to the pitch.
“I think I went out for a little bit of warm ups, but didn’t have to warm up because I just played 90 minutes,” he said. “And then, I was on the bench.”
As Beasley sat there waiting to get into the Fire match, it occurred to him this could be the last time he’d ever play in front of the Fire supporters. He knew a deal was close that would send him to Dutch club PSV Eindhoven.
“I told Dave that this might be my last chance to play for the Fire, and I think that’s another reason why he let me come on if they needed me,” Beasley said. “It was gonna be one of my last games, and I definitely wanted to play in front of the fans before I left.”
So, now it was up to Sarachan to decide whether Beasley would see any time in the second match. And in the 60th minute, much to the surprise of Fire fans who were told earlier in the week there was no chance he would play, Beasley re-entered the Soldier Field pitch, this time wearing red instead of white.
At that point, the match was tied 1-1 after a pair of 50th minute goals from the Fire’s Damani Ralph and the Revs’ Steve Ralston. Despite Beasley’s heroic effort, the second match ended with the same 1-1 scoreline as the first.
“That moment—didn’t really matter about the results—just being able to play with two different teams in one night was pretty special,” Beasley said.
Beasley played 120 minutes plenty of times in his career, but it was always in matches that went to extra time. Playing for 90 minutes, then sitting on the bench for 60 more before playing again was a very different thing, he said.
“I was completely exhausted,” Beasley said with a laugh. “Exhausted! After that 30 minutes I played with the Fire, I couldn’t run anymore. Literally. My legs were like Jell-O.”
Beasley would play only two more matches for the Fire—a mid-week road game also against the Revolution, and one final home match against the MetroStars, and then he was off to the Netherlands to play for PSV.
Along with going to four finals in four years—including winning two U.S. Open Cups—Beasley said doing double duty is one of his favorite memories of his time in Chicago, although he feels not a lot of people remember he actually did it.
“That ranks pretty close to the top,” Beasley said. “Just to be able to play in two games, be important enough with the National Team and with the Fire for Bruce [Arena] and for Dave [Sarachan] to see that I could play in both games. Obviously, when you’re with the National Team, you don’t play with your club team. So, the fact that they felt I was important enough to play in both games was pretty special to me.
“When I heard that you wanted to speak about it, I was like, ‘Oh, yeah!,’ Because no one has ever talked about that.”
For all the historic things he did in his career—playing in four World Cups, the Champions League, the Premier League, scoring that famous goal against Mexico in the 2005 World Cup Qualifier in Columbus, Ohio—Beasley never again played in two matches—for two different teams—in one day.
But, he said he’s glad he had the chance to do it while he was still young.
“If I was still playing, I would not do it at 37! I’ll tell you that!” Beasley said, laughing.