Houston Dynamo: How DaMarcus Beasley stays indispensable

The box had rows of zeroes for Houston Dynamo’s DaMarcus Beasley after their 4-0 March 3 rout of Atlanta United FC. Yet he played the entire game.

No sane person would remove Houston Dynamo’s DaMarcus Beasley from their 4-0 shutout of Atlanta United FC. The box score didn’t include his 34 passes, 89% successful. The box also stayed mum regarding his tackle and two clearances.

Important contributions in sports don’t always get statistical recognition. Baseball boxes go silent on great glove work. American rules football boxes get quiet regarding even the best offensive lineman.

So, soccer’s defensive artists don’t get much recognition in the official soccer boxes.

 

Zeroes on paper but not on performance

As for Beasley, he got all zeroes next to his name, except for minutes, in the Dynamo’s 2018 opening-game box. Yet the Houston Dynamo found the wisdom to keep Beasley on the pitch throughout their 90-minute opening game shutout against Atlanta United FC.

Beasley has gotten his team’s vote of confidence everywhere he’s played. That’s happened no matter what his box accounts looked like.

Beasley appeared in five All-Star games. He represented the Dynamo in two, including last year’s. He has played in 87 Dynamo games, starting in 85. There he served as vice-captain.

He ranks second in U.S. history with 11 World Cup appearances. Beasley is the only man to represent the U.S. four times in the FIFA World Cup.

Beasley played with PSV Eindhoven of the Dutch Eredivisie in the UEFA Champions League semifinals. The player was the first American to do so.

He became the second American to play with the Scottish Premier League Rangers. There, he joined them for two league championships.

And he’s also had stops with Manchester City, German Bundesliga’s Hanover 96 and the Mexican Primera Division’s Puebla.

Beasley wins the head coach’s confidence

Dynamo Head Coach Wilmer Cabrera expresses confidence in the defender. The coach emphasizes the Beasley’s quality and proficiency of play. He also admires Beasley’s talent and how he serves as a point of reference for teammates.

As one of the most creative MLS coaches, Cabrera’s greatest compliment comes when he speaks to Beasley’s ideas. At the simplest level, that means he’s a defensive player who rarely, if ever, needs coaching up.

If a Dynamo game were chess, both Beasley and Cabrera would stay a great many moves ahead of the opponents. And Beasley wouldn’t be very many moves behind Cabrera.

So what do these coaches know that keeps Beasley in the game? We can’t depend on conventional soccer statistics boxes to find out on our own. What do we look for to understand his great value to the sport?

We can focus on three areas to get Beasley figured out.

LOS ANGELES, CA – MARCH 21: DaMarcus Beasley

DaMarcus Beasley’s approach to the game keeps him in Houston Dynamo’s games for the whole 90 minutes.

The way DaMarcus Beasley approaches defense won him the 2017 MLS Fair Play Individual Award. He’s the only Houston Dynamo to win the award. He finished last season with 1,985 minutes, no cards showed.

For his entire MLS career, Beasley has seen only 14 yellow cards and no reds. But that doesn’t mean he’s not doing anything on defense.

He put in nearly 2,000 minutes in 24 regular-season games – all but two starts – last season. This past season he became a key player in Houston achieving the best home record in the Western Conference.

He continues to help Houston build that stonewall at home by focusing on the ball. He intercepts and passes when possible. As a last resort, he clears.

In the Dynamo’s shutout over Atlanta to open the season, Beasley posted two clears. One of those clears came late in the game when United FC desperately fought to leave with at least one score.

In all other instances, Beasley intercepted and passed to a teammate moving to the midfield.

Beasley’s performance overcomes the doubters

Some scouts report a little disappointment with Beasley’s tackling. Beasley doesn’t exempt himself from soccer’s tackling techniques. He doesn’t keep himself from physical contact. And he did make one tackle in the game.

However, Beasley doesn’t have to emphasize to lead a shut-out defense such as Houston’s 2018 home opener. He doesn’t have risk clogging the record with another card.

Beasley finished his 90 minutes the way he left 2017. He saw no cards, yellow or red. And his team established their intention to master all their opponents at home. With key defensive leadership from Beasley, that statement sounded very loud.

DaMarcus Beasley’s midfield experience means versatility. He applies focus and agility to changing situations for the Houston Dynamo.

HOUSTON, TX – MARCH 13: DaMarcus Beasley

As a defender, DaMarcus Beasley had to transition from a winger in the midfield to a fullback. For that reason, he seamlessly translates his play to midfielder once he reaches the area.

In the Dynamo’s first game of the season, he frequently got the ball in the midfield. There, he attempted 36 passes and completed 89% of them. For those passes, he doesn’t get intimidated no matter how many opponents challenge his moves through the area.

He took charge of two long ball opportunities in the game.

His midfield performance means that he can control the ball. In the second half of Houston’s game against Atlanta United FC, the team attempted an uncharacteristic and radical ball control style. Beasley instantly transformed his focus to achieve that. And the team did so.

As for Dynamo coaches, they went on record in Beasley’s biography recognizing his balance and agility as elite in MLS. His focus ensures that the defender never gets caught out of place. His early midfield experience means he doesn’t find himself flatfooted there, either.

Scouts agree on Beasley’s strengths.

Scouts recognize Beasley’s strongest assets include ball control and passing. Those skills come out of his midfield experience and training.

Dynamo President and General Manager Matt Jordan described Damarcus Beasley as part of the team’s strong foundation. While he finished the 2017 season with only 13 fouls, Jordan hinted that clean defensive play represents only a small part of the Beasley story.

Jordan emphasized that Beasley drew 35 fouls last season, increasing Houston’s chances in those games. Also, the defender moved expertly moves through the field to become what Jordan calls an integral part of Houston’s counterattack system.

If DaMarcus Beasley doesn’t show up in a specific Houston Dynamo box, he still shows up when it counts. And during the season, he’ll still show up with a goal or assist.

HOUSTON, TX – MARCH 13: Kevin Molino

Houston Dynamo D DaMarcus Beasley may not show up in post-game boxes for his greatest contributions on defense. But he’s there for his offense in key situations for his offense.

That doesn’t include his offense in Houston’s season opener against Atlanta FC United.

In that game, Houston practiced total control in the second half. Beasley contributed two key dispossessions against Atlanta United FC. On one of his possessions, he advanced the ball past Atlanta before passing. He kept the ball long enough to get credit for a dribble.

As a game progresses, Beasley creatively searches for ways to get the advanced balls to Dynamo forwards. As the season progresses, Beasley looks for key moments to post offensive moves on his own.

In seasons 2015-2017, Beasley took a total of 24 shots, scoring two goals. He also added two assists.

In his MLS career, Beasley scored 16 goals with 22 assists. Of those, he scored two goals and two assists with the Dynamo. So DaMarcus Beasley isn’t really a stranger to fans’ box scores.

On the U.S. Men’s National Team, he has the eighth most assists with 13 and ties for ninth most goals with 17.

The national organization recognizes Beasley’s talent on both sides of the pitch. He stays focused on the ball. And he creatively transposes his focus for the specific situation. The left-footed, Indiana-born player proved himself at left back since joining the Dynamo in 2014.

Before season’s end, fans can rest assured they’ll see Beasley in their box scores with shots, goals and assists. But if they’ll pay attention on the pitch, they’ll see many key contributions to Houston Dynamo wins.