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Last updated: Fri. Jul. 18, 2014 - 11:17 pm EDT

Fort Wayne soccer hero Beasley aims to keep playing

Fresh off the World Cup, he's eager to take on next challenge

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For more on local professional athletes, follow Reggie Hayes via Twitter at www.twitter.com/reggiehayes1

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DaMarcus Beasley feigned like he was going to give up the ball, then pulled back and darted the other direction. He's always been crafty like that.

After mentioning that he won't likely be part of a fifth World Cup team for the United States in 2018, he was asked if there might be a glimmer of possibility.

“I laugh about it and joke about it because I'm 32 and I will be 36 when it's in Russia,” Beasley said. “But I'll give it my all. Some of my old coaches are here…they know I'm not going to give up and I'm not going to let someone take my position easily.

“If it happens I'm in the World Cup again, it does. But I'd be very, very surprised if there's not a young left back who comes in and takes my spot. I've got the passion, I'll keep pushing until my legs can't go anymore.”

He's not giving up the spot without a fight, then?

“They'll have to take it,” Beasley said.

Beasley was in Fort Wayne on Friday, stopping by the mayor's office for the declaration of “DeMarcus Beasley Day,” before meeting with the media and young players at his Beasley National Soccer School at The Plex North.

It's his first time back in his hometown in four years, he tweeted, and his first trip back as the only four-time member of the U.S. World Cup team.

Sporting the backward cap and Coca-Cola shirt that reflects his still youthful persona, Beasley talked with the media, signed autographs and gave away his World Cup cleats (a shoe apiece) to two lucky youngsters.

He said he doesn't dwell much on his personal record with the U.S. team.

“When I retire, I'll look back on it and appreciate it more,” Beasley said. “I'm still playing. I'm looking forward to a new challenge. …I'm sure I'll give it more thought when I'm done playing.”

His next playing locale remains uncertain, as Beasley is negotiating with a variety of teams, here and abroad. He should be in relative demand after playing so well during the World Cup run, helping the U.S. to the round of 16, further than many predicted they would advance.

“I would literally play almost anywhere,” Beasley said. “I'm excited to get back on the field, excited for a new journey. Where that will be I don't know yet.”

For the weekend, at least, Beasley will bask in the familiarity of his childhood hometown. He'll be appearing at the NASL's Indy Eleven game on Saturday night in Indianapolis. The rest of the time, he'll be catching up with family and old friends, enjoying a rare summer break before his soccer journey takes him on the road again. He joked with one reporter that a visit to Coney Island would make his agenda.

Beasley said he felt the best team (Germany) won the World Cup, and said the U.S. team played well in most of its World Cup games.

“Obviously, you always think you can play better,” Beasley said. “One thing we did was we left everything on the field. At times, we didn't play the best soccer we know how to play, but at the same time we never gave up. We tried to play the game on our terms.”

Getting out of the “Group of Death,” was a major achievement, Beasley said, especially considering few gave the Americans a chance to advance.

Beasley had a self-imposed media ban during the World Cup, but took time Friday to talk with Fort Wayne reporters for an extended period of time. He said he felt like the attention U.S. soccer received this World Cup will continue to increase the popularity of the sport.

“When you grow up as a kid, everyone wants to play in a World Cup,” Beasley said. “For us, and our sport, it's the highest (level). Playing in one was great, but to be able to play in four, I never dreamed that. Never. But after I got a taste of the first one, I knew I wanted to do more.

“I never in my wildest dreams thought I'd be in the place I am now. I'm truly blessed and humbled.”

rhayes@news-sentinel.com


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