STANFORD, Calif. -- DaMarcus Beasley knows as much as any other player in the U.S. national team’s pre-World Cup camp what it means to be the young kid in camp trying to make a name and trying to impress.
A dozen years ago, Beasley was a 20-year-old speedster with a baby face and affinity for flashy jewelry. He and Landon Donovan took the 2002 U.S. World Cup team by storm with their carefree personalities and blazing speed.
Twelve years later, Beasley is now the veteran on the team, his baby face replaced with the makings of a beard, his neatly trimmed haircut replaced by an age-hastened shaved bald head. He is no longer the kid on the team, but he does see something special in the new kids on the block.
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Deandre Yedlin, 20, and Julian Green, 18, are the young bucks this time around, and the two speedsters aren't widely regarded as players expected to do much in Brazil. In fact, Yedlin is arguably the biggest long shot to make the World Cup team.
Beasley doesn’t see it that way. He sees Yedlin and Green as possession qualities capable of helping the team, not just in camp, but potentially at the World Cup.
“They’re great talents. They definitely deserve to be here,” Beasley said of Green and Yedlin. “They hold their own in training. They can make this roster. That’s why they’re here. It’s not to give them experience. Experience for what? A two-week training?
“Jurgen sees them as guys that could possibly be in the World Cup and play in a World Cup game, and that’s what we’re preparing for,” Beasley added. “We’re not preparing for seven guys getting cut. We’re preparing for that first game against Ghana and we’re preparing everyone that can play. From DeAndre, Julian and those other guys that haven’t played a World Cup, everyone is preparing for that first game against Ghana."
Green has just one national team appearance and has yet to play a first-team match for Bayern Munich, but his speed, technical quality and finishing ability make him a very intriguing option for Klinsmann, who could choose to bring Green along to give him valuable World Cup experience as a long-term key figure for the national team.
Yedlin has a full year under his belt as a professional starter for the Seattle Sounders, but he is still learning how to be a defender, and his inexperience can make him a liability in defense. But what Yedlin possesses is intriguing attacking qualities and blazing speed. The speed element is something lacking in the current U.S. team, which is likely a key reason he earned the surprise inclusion into the final 30-man preliminary U.S. World Cup roster.
Beasley has seen enough to give them both his seal of approval, and he wouldn’t be surprised to see either of them join him in Brazil, when Beasley will be appearing in his fourth World Cup.
“It’s a great credit to them. They’ve done a lot of work,” Beasley said of Green and Yedlin. “I’m happy to see young guys at that age getting a shot at their first World Cup at this age. I’m excited to see what they’ll do in the next couple of weeks and the future. Give credit to them. They deserve to be here. They’ve done well thus far and, hopefully, they do well and they make the team.”