It didn't look good for DaMarcus Beasley. He knew it as well as anyone.
Just to be named to U.S. national team coach Bob Bradley's 30-man preliminary World Cup roster was a shock, considering the veteran midfielder has been hampered by injuries and seen his playing time diminish with Glasgow Rangers, a Scottish powerhouse.
"I am on the outside looking in," Beasley said last week at Princeton University after the team opened its first training camp in preparation for South Africa. "I just have to bust my butt harder than anyone else and prove that I deserve to be here. I am pleased and proud to be here. I had a difficult season coming in from Rangers and I was unsure how that would culminate into a spot on this team."
Tomorrow at Lincoln Financial Field, the U.S. team plays Turkey in its final pre-Cup game in the States (2 p.m., ESPN2). Beasley, 27, will be on the 23-man roster, as a member of a team scheduled to depart the following day for Johannesburg. This will be his third World Cup appearance.
"I am a veteran, and I still felt that I have leadership roles and qualities that can help this team," he said. "At the same time, I felt like I was 20 years old again, trying to make the squad. Bob knows me and he knows my abilities and my versatilities and hopefully that will get me a spot on his roster."
"It's been a good camp for DaMarcus," Bradley said, whose team will work out today at the Linc. "He's shown his teammates there is renewed commitment to everything, and I think that's what he showed on the field."
Bradley's squad, regarded as one of the finest collection of players the United States has assembled for a World Cup, was a 4-2 loser to the Czech Republic on Tuesday in the equivalent of an NFL preseason game - less about earning a win and more about evaluating which players are truly ready to handle the rigors of the next 5 weeks.
"[Tuesday's match] was about looking at guys," Bradley said. "We felt going into the game we still needed to size up some different possibilities and options. The subs we used were all geared toward looking closely at people and using that information along with everything else in camps before and through this cycle. There are thoughts about what they bring to the team chemistry and mentality, and finally the fitness and current form. It's all of those things that get discussed and then decisions get made."
Final decisions were made after the game and the U.S. roster was announced live Wednesday on ESPN. Yesterday, the team visited President Obama at the White House along with former President Clinton. Clinton is a member of the U.S. Bid Committee, out to secure the World Cup in what most likely will be 2022. FIFA, soccer's world governing body, has maintained its intent to award the 2018 Games to a European nation, so it is likely America's greatest chance to host will come in 2022.
However, in the present looms Turkey, which did not qualify for the World Cup but does boast some serious talent. Its most potent threat is midfielder Hamit Altintop, who plays for German club Bayern Munich. Bayern's season recently came to a close with a 2-0 loss to Inter Milan in last Saturday's UEFA Champions League final, a game in which Altintop started and finished.
Fans are hoping to see the U.S. star crop, but whomever Bradley decides to put out there, expect Beasley to fall somewhere in the mix.
After all, he's earned it.
"I've always been committed to the national team, but I had a rough time when my form went down and my confidence went down as well," he said. "I've always tried to play my best for my country. It didn't happen that way [at first] and I got down on myself. All I asked for was a chance, and now that I'm getting back into playing and training regularly, I feel like I'm back to being myself."
United States vs. Turkey
When: Tomorrow, 2 p.m.
Where: Lincoln Financial Field
TV: ESPN2. Web: ESPN3.com