'I wanted to be the guy you could count on' - Beasley reflects on career with retirement looming

DaMarcus Beasley Houston Dynamo MLS 2018
Jonathan Daniel
The USMNT veteran will retire at the conclusion of the MLS season, ending one of the most decorated careers in American soccer history

DaMarcus Beasley says he doesn't want to be remembered for his records, and he has plenty of them. He doesn't want to be remembered for his trophies, and there are plenty of those, too. He doesn't even necessarily want to be remembered for the ground he broke throughout his two-decade-long career. 

Instead, as he approaches the end of a career that seemingly would never and could never end, the U.S. national team legend wants to remembered for the moments, the times when he stepped up and proved that he was a player and a man that could be counted on. 

You can count on this being Beasley's last professional season, as the 36-year-old fullback that has been widely described as an ageless wonder has announced he's nearing the end. The Houston Dynamo star revealed on Monday that this season will be his last, ending a career that has spanned 20 years in the American soccer spotlight.

Throughout those years, Beasley has become the only American to appear in four World Cups. He became an American pioneer in Europe, featuring in a Champions League semi-final. He became a noted mentor and a player praised for his ability to adapt to a new position, a new team, a new challenge. 

But, in Beasley's eyes, it's not about what he became, but what he always was. 

"I've gotten the question a couple of times," Beasley said when asked about his legacy. "I don't know, to be honest. It's hard to pinpoint one thing or a couple of things. I've never really been that person to, not so much hype up my own game or do any of that...One thing I can pinpoint, off the top of my head, is that I wanted it to be known that you can always count on me in big games. 

"In big games, under the lights, when it really, really meant something, whether that's in a final or in a Champions League game in Europe, a World Cup game, whatever it may be, when it came down to a big game and you needed guys to stand up and show personality and be accounted for and to be men, to be steady, to not let the atmosphere get to you, that was one thing I was pretty good at. 

"If I want to be remembered by something, I think that will be something that would be pretty cool: to be the guy that the locker room and the coaching staff can count on and say, 'We know what we're gonna get from Beas'." 

DaMarcus Beasley 2002 USMNT

Beasley broke through at a time when it was hard to predict what you'd get from a young American star. But, alongside the likes of residency teammate and fellow youth national team standout Landon Donovan, Beasley helped break the mold. 

It's a career he says was filled with ups and downs. There were the highs like breaking through with the Chicago Fire and earning his way to PSV in what he called a "sink or swim moment". At that point, he swam, helping the team reach the Champions league semi-final before falling to a historic AC Milan team that featured the likes of Paolo Maldini, Kaka and Andriy Shevchenko. 

And there were the lows, including a stint in Germany that left him on the outside looking in for both club and country. It was an experience that was a "blessing in disguise", and one that made it all the more memorable when he resurfaced time and time again no matter what league he was playing in. It's what made his resurgence with Puebla and continued consistency with the Dynamo all the more impressive. 

In the weeks and months leading up to his announcement, Beasley went through his Rolodex of former teammates, and there are many of them. He spoke to Ante Razov, Josh Wolff, Chris Armas and Dennis Hamlet, all guys that were mentors to him when he broke through. He spoke to Eddie Johnson and Maurice Edu, two former national team teammates that had recently been through a similar decision on their own terms. 

And they all gave the same advice. 

DaMarcus Beasley USMNT 06082017

"[I talked] to different guys just to see what they kind of went through," he said. "How did they know? Everyone told me that you have to play as long as you can, as long as you have two legs and can get up and down the field, you should play. That was the advice that almost every person gave me: play as long as you can. 

"But they also said, 'When you know, you know', and for me, I know. I'm 100 percent behind and confident in my decision. I'm totally fine with that." 

He informed the Dynamo of his decision in preseason, and circled his May birthday as a rough time to make his reveal. He had thought about it last season, with the Dynamo's U.S. Open Cup triumph serving as what felt like a fitting send-off. But, when confronted with the decision, he felt he had just a little bit more to give. 

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And, now, with the ending date decided, Beasley knows he's nearly ready. He knows the day is coming and the games are winding down before he steps away for good. Before that, though, he'll hope to play in one or two more of those big games, the games that really matter, and he'll look to create one or two more of those moments that have meant and still mean so much to him. 

"You enjoy it more. You take into account the little things that you didn't earlier in your career," he said. "You start thinking that this will be the last road trip to this city or the last time we have this kind of meeting with this guy or something with the team or a team function, of course that goes through your head. It goes through my mind, but I'm happy about it. 

"I still have a whole season ahead of me. I still have a whole season to concentrate on. This isn't my last game tomorrow. I know I'll have a different feeling when I play my last game with the Dynamo, but I feel happy, I feel good. I'm getting back to 100 percent, and that part is great. My whole thing is to be on the field. That's where I want to me and that's where I'm happiest: when I'm on the field."