Beasley 2019 USMNTGetty

Beasley's 'beautiful challenge': USMNT legend looking to leave a lasting legacy in his two homes

DaMarcus Beasley's United States career was defined by its remarkable longevity – which was down to one thing: his ability to adapt.

Throughout his nearly two decades as a senior international, Beasley was a little bit of everything for U.S. Soccer. He was the hotshot speedster and the experienced veteran. He was the dynamic winger and the composed left-back.

In short, Beasley was whatever the USMNT needed him to be at any given moment, and there were plenty of great moments throughout his 126 caps and 516 club games for the likes of the PSV, Manchester City, Rangers and the Houston Dynamo.

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Still, even with his seemingly inhuman ability to make himself into whatever piece of the puzzle was missing at the time, Beasley's historic playing career had to finish at some point. And so, in 2019, Beasley began part two of his life: the infamous post-playing career. It's one that promises to be even longer than his time on the field, and one that he's admittedly still adjusting to. 

He's now an owner of a club that represents his hometown, having brought professional soccer to Fort Wayne in the form of a team in USL League 2.

He's served as an analyst, working as part of CBS Sports' Champions League coverage. And, after playing in a record four World Cups as a player, he's indirectly playing a role in a fifth as he looks to bring the 2026 tournament to his adopted home of Houston. 

After all of this time, after years of being the guy that does everything, Beasley's biggest takeaway from the early days of post-playing life is there are still so many things he still doesn't quite know how to do.

"That's probably one of my biggest challenges: knowing when to shut up," Beasley tells Goal with a laugh. "I like to have my hand in different bags. I think that's fun. It's a challenge. It's a fun challenge, and I'm enjoying it."

When he retired in 2019, Beasley immediately set his sights on moving towards the business side of the game. He'd seen several of his former teammates move into coaching over the last few years but, when the time came to end his playing career, Beasley's first instinct was to look at off-field roles.

And that brings him to the first bag he has his hand in: ownership. In October, he was announced as a part-owner of Fort Wayne FC, a newly formed outfit in Beasley's Indiana hometown. The club has had two games so far, losing their first game to Oakland County before earning their first point with a draw with Grand Rapids.

DaMarcus Beasley USMNT GFXGetty/Goal

With Fort Wayne, Beasley becomes the latest USMNT legend to step into an ownership role, following in the footsteps of longtime teammates Landon Donovan and Tim Howard.

But, unlike Donovan, Beasley had no desire to move into coaching and, unlike Howard, he had no plans to step back onto the field to represent his hometown.

What the club does, though, is give him a chance to grow the game in a city that means a lot to him, a city that is far from a traditional soccer powerhouse.

It was the city that gave Beasley his start before he joined IMG Academy, the United States Soccer Federation's Residency program in Florida, in 1999, kickstarting his winding path through professional soccer.

But, despite the fact that he is no longer a player, he is using the experiences he's had throughout his career to step in when needed. 

"Having that balance between the players and the management group is difficult because you want to say something, you want to jump in and say 'Okay, that's how you should do this,' but that's what you have coaches for," he says. "You put people in place to do their job. That's how I am, that's how I'm going to be.

"I go to the games and see how the boys train every day, see how their performance is on the field. If they ask me a question, of course I'll answer it. I call it a beautiful challenge because I love the game so much and I just want them to improve.

"At the same time, I know my role, and I know what I have to do as far as being an owner for them to succeed and for the club to succeed. If I intertwine them both and try to do things where I'm not accustomed to, it's not gonna be good for anybody."

There's still a second part to Beasley's soccer endeavors. He is also serving as a member of Houston's World Cup bid committee's Board of Directors, having joined up with the project to bring the 2026 tournament to the Texas city last July.

Serving gives Beasley a chance to continue giving back to a city he sees as an adopted hometown, one that he has embraced fully and one that he feels fully embraced him.

Beasley's involvement with the committee comes as a result of his time with the Houston Dynamo, whom he represented for six seasons. The committee reunites him with Committee president Chris Canetti, the former Dynamo president that helped bring Beasley back to MLS in 2014.

In Beasley, Canetti & Co. have a valuable asset. There are few in American soccer that know the game's biggest tournament more than Beasley, who played in four World Cups, and there are few ex-players more respected than the 38-year-old USMNT legend.

Beasley isn't just a forward-facing face for the city, but a resource to be utilized. He knows what players like and don't like, what sorts of facilities work and don't work. Mainly, he knows more than most about what makes a city a good host.

Beasley Canetti Dynamo

"To have someone like him on our committee to bring so much knowledge and expertise, we're able to lean on him from time to time to get the players' perspective, to find out what is most important in delivering a world-class experience for players at the World Cup," Canetti tells Goal.

"He can speak to the media, we've had him engaged in some of our grow the game initiatives, and he's very passionate about those types of things. To be able to bring DaMarcus Beasley to an inner-city community, an underserved community, to participate in some of the growing the game initiatives, it's just very, very, very, very valuable."

He adds: "This is a person who has one of the greatest careers of any American of all time. You can make an argument that perhaps it's even the greatest career of all time with his World Cups and Champions League experience. But there's no doubt that he also has a passion to continue to give back to the game and contribute to the game. 

"He's very, very smart. He's looking to learn every single day and he's going to take what he learned from his experiences and his observations over his 20-plus year career and continue to grow and continue to chase his goals and ambitions. 

"I've found him to be a very quick learner and somebody that I think is going to do a great job running a professional soccer team. I think he's going to build a good club good culture, have good people around him and I think he's on his way to tremendous success."

Canetti stepped down from the Dynamo in 2019 in order to focus solely on bringing the tournament to Houston, the fourth largest city in the U.S. that is also conveniently close to fellow host Mexico.

Canetti points out that the city hosts more major sporting events than perhaps any other in the U.S., whether that's Super Bowls, Final Fours or major international friendlies. But, due to the pandemic, what was once expected to be an 18-month project has turned into something much longer.

Bids are expected to be finalized before the end of the year, with Houston being one of 17 cities competing to be one of 10 American-based hosts.

In Houston, Beasley sees a city that would be forever altered by a World Cup, one that would explode if given the chance to mix a unique culture with the world's biggest sporting event.

DaMarcus Beasley USMNT GFXGetty/Goal

"I love to see the culture, the diversity of Houston," he says. "It's a very warm and inviting city. We love the game so much. Football is everywhere in Houston, and that's what I loved about the city probably the most outside of the food and the culture – it's a footballing city.

"It's a city where you know people want to embrace the sport, they want to go to events, they want to be involved in sporting events and Houston 2026 can be another event that we can host and show what Houston is all about."

And so Beasley's post-playing career, at least so far, has been defined by his desire to ignite the game in two very cities. One is a small town with long-term dreams; the other a budding soccer city looking to use 2026 as a springboard to bigger and better things.

Time will tell if Beasley, the owner or the committee member, finds a new form of success. But, in some ways, his current goals are pretty simple: to build things that can outlast even his illustrious playing career.

"It's about growing the game, and doing the same thing with Houston 2026: growing the game there with a World Cup," he says. "That's no different than what I'm doing in my hometown. [Fort Wayne] is a smaller, smaller scale. We're starting off in the USL 2, but it's all about growing the game.

"It's all about giving kids the opportunity to play. Nowadays, if you're from say Indiana, you don't have to go to California to play high-level football and to get high-level coaching. You can improve yourself and challenge yourself at different levels.

"There are clubs, good clubs, that can develop you as a player, develop you as a human being, not just so much on the playing side but also being a young man or young woman.

"So, those things for me are just important, as a footballer: growing the game as well."

He adds: "I'm just starting out on this... I talked to Timmy, I talked to Claudio [Reyna],  talked to almost every, not every GM but a lot of GMs in USL and MLS, and they all said the same thing: you have to have that balance.

"Everyone has their own way of doing things, their own personality, and you've got to figure out yours. Landon has this way, I'll have my way.

"As I said, I call it a beautiful challenge. I'm learning as I go and I'm enjoying it as I go."