DaMarcus Beasley’s Gold Cup captaincy: Not everything is about Landon Donovan

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It’s not all about Landon Donovan, though from DaMarcus Beasley’s perspective, it could be. Even when the Puebla midfielder, who recently accrued his 100th cap for the U.S. Men’s national team, was named team captain for the Gold Cup, people are using the occasion to talk about his old pal from Bradenton: Why wasn’t Landon Donovan given the arm band? (Just search Twitter for “Landon Donovan” to see some of the reaction.)

Can’t we take a moment to think about why Beasley may be deserving of this honor? The veteran who has worked his way back into the national team picture, one of the few holdovers from June’s qualifiers who will take part in this month’s Gold Cup? The man who’s been to three World Cups, who has had the misfortune of having some of his prodigious professional accomplishments overshadowed during a career that’s run parallel to Donovan’s?

I’m feigning surprise, but it’s no shock that the most popular player in the history of the men’s national team is going to be the subplot whenever he’s around. And with Donovan in the Gold Cup squad, loyal fans still expect a certain deference, including the arm band.

It should go without saying that was never going to happen. The guy has rarely been a part of the setup since Jurgen Klinsmann took over. He went on walkabout earlier this year. He knows he has to work his way back into the team.

Do you really think Landon Donovan’s locked away in his San Diego hotel room ruminating about this? Probably not. Donovan seems to have accepted the consequences of his early 2013 vacation. He’s said all the right things. He knows he has to work his way back into the team, and he’s continuously reiterated his desire to do so. At no point has he intimated anything approaching the entitlement of expecting to be made captain, and Klinsmann’s choice of Beasley’s is less a reflection of some theoretical grudge than a reflection of Donovan’s reality. A reality he’s created.

But look at me, falling into the same trap. At a moment where we could be paying tribute to Beasley, I’m helping fuel a conversation about Donovan. Oh, the tacit hypocrisy of commentary.

I suppose it is what it is, but I can’t help but wonder if Beasley ever stops and thinks about Donovan’s shadow. While he was playing in Champions League semifinals for PSV, making stops at Manchester City and Rangers, U.S. Soccer and Nike were all-in on Landon. Don’t mind me, I’m just playing in England and the Champions League, Beasley could have sarcastically said to himself. If the prime of his career was happening right now, he might get Dempsey-level attention.

That attention never came, but with today’s announcement, Beasley can content himself with this honor. He’s had a fabulous career, one worthy of this recognition.

USMNT AT HALF: Dempsey, Gomez trade goals in chippy first half

AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco
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Christian Pulisic and Clint Dempsey combined for another goal, and the USMNT leads Panama 1-0 in a World Cup qualifier Tuesday in Panama City.

A physical, chippy first half didn’t see many clear cut chances and was 0-0 after 38. minutes.

[ STREAM: Live on Telemundo Deportes ]

The first 10 minutes were a bit frenetic, with the U.S. focused on adventurous first touch passes when it managed to earn the ball from Panama.

That feel wasn’t aided by the officiating, as Cesar Ramos was inconsistent in a very physical opening half-hour.

Then, the breakthrough. Dempsey moved to within a goal of Landon donovan’s all-time mark thanks to Pulisic, who cooked Felipe Baloy and held off Roman Torres before laying off to the veteran. 1-0, 39′.

The lead lasted all of three minutes, as Gomez pounced on a loose ball with the Yanks’ back line at sixes and sevens off a long throw-in. Gomez turned off Jermaine Jones and lost Villafana to bury his chance behind Howard. 1-1, 44′.

STREAM LIVE: USMNT looks for 3 more points in Panama

Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
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The United States looks to finish the international break in an automatic qualifier spot in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying table when it faces Panama in Panama City at 10:05 p.m. EDT Tuesday.

A lot of the faces are the same from the 6-0 demolition of Honduras in California on Friday, though John Brooks and Sebastian Lletget are out with injury.

Jermaine Jones replaces Lletget while Tim Ream moves into the fray for Brooks. Geoff Cameron played Friday’s match with a minor injury, and moves out of the XI for Graham Zusi.

LINEUP

USMNT: Howard; Villafana, Gonzalez, Ream, Zusi; Bradley, Jones, Nagbe; Pulisic, Dempsey, Altidore

Subs: Bingham, Rimando; Beasley, Besler, Camron, Zimmerman; Acosta, Arriola, Bedoya, Kljestan, McCarty, Pulisic; Wondolowski

Reyes header gives Mexico three points in T&T (video)

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Diego Reyes’ 58th minute header off a corner kick gave Mexico a lead it wouldn’t give up in a 1-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago at Hasely Crawford Stadium in World Cup qualifying on Tuesday.

The win gives Mexico a table-topping 10 points, seven ahead of last-place T&T.

[ MORE: Honduras 1-1 Costa Rica ]

The Soca Warriors were in fine, stingy form early, and looked to have gone ahead on the counterattack when Joevin Jones belted a left-footer into the Mexico goal.

The linesman, however, ruled that Jones was offside. He almost certainly was not, as Mexico’s supreme luck in CONCACAF play continued for at least one night.

Hector Herrera hammered a shot off the far goal post early in the second half as Mexico attempted to grab control.

T&T goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams jammed Miguel Layun’s shot over the bar moments before the breakthrough from Reyes.

Williams then saved Javier Hernandez’s 64th minute offering as Mexico looked to put three points to bed.

Joevin Jones won a free kick in the 76th minute that gave a brief moment of light to T&T’s hopes, but Jones hit the wall and Mexico cleared the ball.

Honduras holds Costa Rica 1-1

AP Photo/Moises Castillo
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Honduras did the United States a favor by taking a point from visiting Costa Rica in Tuesday’s CONCACAF World Cup qualifier in San Pedro Sula.

Anthony Lozano pushed a 35th minute chance past an indecisive Keylor Navas, as Los Catrachos set the stage for a hopeful three points.

[ STREAM: T&T-Mexico, Panama-USMNT ]

Vancouver Whitecaps center back Kendall Waston’s haphazard defending helped allow the goal, but he scored off a late Costa Rica corner kick to ensure Costa Rica will finish the international break in second place.

With four points, Honduras moves ahead of Trinidad and Tobago and the United States before both sides play Tuesday.

Costa Rica beat the U.S. 4-0 in 2016, while the Yanks battered Honduras 6-0 on Friday.