DaMarcus Beasley, introduced in Houston: I see myself as a left back

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DaMarcus Beasley’s homecoming will be complete when he takes the field for the Dynamo, but another part of the buildup was checked off the list when the 32-year-old was introduced to Houston’s media on Thursday. In the process, the natural midfielder made it clear: The U.S. international considers his conversion to fullback to be complete.

“Do I see myself as a left back? Yes.” he said at Thursday’s press conference, according to the league’s website. Beasley was the left back for every minute of the U.S. at Brazil 2014. “Jurgen [Klinsmann] had the confidence in me to play left back in the World Cup against some of the best players in the world, so I’ve got to have confidence in myself I can play that position.”

Though fullback has become his regular spot for the U.S., Beasley has not been able to boost play the position at club level, where he’s been used almost exclusively as a midfielder. Through his time with the Chicago Fire, PSV Eindhoven, Glasgow Rangers, Hannover, and Puebla, the IMG Academy product has persisted in wide midfielder, where he has accumulated most of his 120 caps with the national team.

Since Jurgen Klinsmann took over the team, however, Beasley has been used almost exclusively at left back, and while that spurred initial concerns about the U.S.’s lack of depth at the position, Beasley’s performance in Brazil quelled any notion the one-time winger could cover the position.

With Corey Ashe having established himself at left back for Houston, it’s still unclear where the team’s latest Designated Player will play.

“He can fit in the midfield, he can fit in the back,” Houston head coach Dominic Kinnear said, before implying Beasley’s position was secondary to the overall package.

“Longevity and consistency are two of his main traits,” Kinnear explained. “When you look at him you have the feeling he can play a couple of more years.”

Beasley, however, strongly hinted his mind’s in defense. Again from MLSSoccer.com:

“I see myself as a defender. Wherever Dom’s going to put me is where I fit best into the team I’ll play it,” Beasley continued. “Do I still have the midfield mentality sometimes? Of course. Do I still want to score goals? Of course. I never have that out of mind when I play. But I do have a job to do being a defender and that’s to defend and that’s my first job.”

Regardless of Beasley’s preferences, Houston’s footing part of this bill, and Kinnear needs to decide where he fits best. Though Ashe is entrenched at left back, a change wouldn’t be the most shocking decision, given how poorly the entire Dynamo defense has played this season. When Ashe clumsily conceded a penalty kick this weekend against Toronto, he reminded viewers he’s been part of the problem.

Then again, Houston could also move left midfielder Brad Davis to the middle, where he has played off-and-on over the last few years. A four-man midfield of Beasley, Davis, Boniek Garcia and Ricardo Clark would be one of the more enviable quartets in Major League Soccer, providing a solution that kept their former All-Star left back in the lineup.

If you’re looking for a thin hint as to Beasley’s future, consider the person Houston traded to get to the top of MLS’s allocation order. A year ago, Warren Creavalle’s progress convinced the Dynamo to trade ball-winner Adam Moffat to Seattle. Now, Creavalle’s a member of Toronto FC, with the Dynamo willing to give up a central midfielder without getting one in return.

CONMEBOL WCQ: Venezuela, Bolivia teetering on elimination

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CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying is always a challenge, and this World Cup cycle is no different.

With six teams currently separated by a mere five points under leaders Brazil, everything is left to play for as Round 14 hits South America.

[ MORE: Messi could face suspension from CONMEBOL ]

Here’s a look at what’s on the docket for Tuesday:

Bolivia vs. Argentina — 4 p.m. EDT

It wasn’t pretty at all, but La Albiceleste picked up a crucial three points against Chile, which could produce a morale lift for Argentina given their past struggles against the reigning Copa America holders.

Lionel Messi’s actions from the match could harm the Albiceleste though, with the Barcelona man reportedly facing sanctions from CONMEBOL for verbally abusing a linesman.

Meanwhile, Bolivia is in desperate need of a win in La Paz, and anything but three points could potentially end La Verde’s hopes of reaching Russia 2018.

Ecuador vs. Colombia — 5 p.m. EDT

It took a long time for Colombia to crack the Bolivia backline on Thursday but a late run from Juan Cuadrado helped set up the eventual winner from James Rodriguez, and kept Los Cafeteros in the top four.

Ecuador didn’t have the same fortunes though four days ago after falling to a very game Paraguay side. La Tricolor have gone winless in three of its last four World Cup qualifiers, leaving Gustavo Quinteros side with little margin of error against the Colombians.

Chile vs. Venezuela — 6 p.m. EDT

Chile’s qualifying struggles continued on Thursday after falling to La Albiceleste in a closely-contested match. Arturo Vidal’s six goals leave the Bayern Munich midfielder third in all of CONMEBOL this campaign, but the Chileans still sit on the outside looking in at the moment and in sixth place.

Venezuela is teetering on the edge of elimination, and a loss against Chile would all but seal their fate of missing out the World Cup. After reaching the quarterfinals at last summer’s Copa America Centenario, La Vinotinto have failed to replicate that form this qualifying campaign with just one win to show.

Top scorer Josef Martinez is no longer with Venezuela after suffering an injury in Thursday’s 2-2 draw against Peru, creating a major void in the side’s attack.

Brazil vs. Paraguay — 8:45 p.m. EDT

The Selecao continue to score at a lightning pace this qualifying campaign with 32 goals in the first 13 rounds of play. Despite conceding early to Uruguay on Thursday, Brazil responded emphatically with four goals, and most notably Paulinho‘s hat-trick.

Elsewhere, Paraguay kept itself within striking distance of the top five after its 2-1 win over Ecuador. The side is just two points behind fifth place Ecuador.

Peru vs. Uruguay — 10:15 p.m. EDT

Los Incas have not reached a World Cup since 1982, and although the team is just five points behind fifth, they need to pick up victories. Ricardo Gareca will be pleased with his side’s resiliency against Venezuela on Thursday, but more draws simply won’t do with only four rounds remaining after Tuesday.

Uruguay still sits in a solid second position after Thursday’s slip up against Brazil but another defeat could be potentially disastrous for La Celeste, who are just three points above sixth place Chile. However, Edinson Cavani’s nine goals leads all of CONMEBOL and Peru has allowed the third-most goals this campaign (22).

Ugly scene forces Ivory Coast-Senegal match to be abandoned

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Monday’s international friendly between Ivory Coast and Senegal turned out to be anything but that when the match was interrupted towards the tail end.

Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

The fixture was abandoned with two minutes remaining in regulation after pitch invaders disrupted the the match by getting past security guards and began chasing after players from both sides.

The score was level at 1-1 in the 88th minute when the disruptions occurred, causing the referee to halt play at the Stade Sebastien Charlety in Paris.

One of the intruders even managed to tackle Senegalese defender Lamine Gassama (as shown in the picture to the right).

Liverpool’s Sadio Mane gave Senegal the lead minutes into the second stanza after he converted from the penalty spot, while Cyriac Gohi Bi leveled the score at one apiece just minutes later.

Messi could face CONMEBOL suspension for verbal abusing official

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Already facing some uncertainty with a depleted roster, Argentina could face a significantly greater challenge.

[ MORE: Aguero left out of Argentina starting XI vs. Bolivia ]

Barcelona star Lionel Messi could face suspension after reportedly verbally abusing linesman Marcelo Van Gasse during the second half of Thursday’s 1-0 win over Chile.

UPDATED: Fox Sports Argentina is reporting that Messi will receive a two to four match suspension and will be effective for tomorrow’s match against Bolivia.

Messi was reported to CONMEBOL for yelling, “F*** off, your mother’s c***” at Van Gasse and refused to shake the official’s hand at the end of the match.

The officiating crew from the match didn’t initially include Messi’s rant in the post-match report, however, it was added on Monday and submitted to CONMEBOL.

The South American federation must now decide if and when it will punish Messi for his reported actions, and there is the potential that the world-class attacker could be suspended for Tuesday’s clash against Bolivia if the federation acts quickly.

There are several other scenarios though for CONMEBOL to action, including disregarding Messi’s verbal assault.

La Albiceleste currently sit third in World Cup qualifying on 22 points.

Arena speaks about USMNT turnaround, says “no secret formulas”

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It’s only been one competitive match since Bruce Arena regained control of the U.S. Men’s National Team and there’s already been a noticeable difference in form.

[ MORE: Three keys for the USMNT ahead of Panama clash ]

The former LA Galaxy manager wouldn’t have you believe that though following Friday night’s convincing 6-0 victory over Honduras in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.

“It’s nothing I can write a book on,” Arena said about his team’s turnaround in form against Honduras. “You have a sense of your group, and you go about doing your business. There’s no secret formulas to this stuff. Work together, take ownership in what you’re doing, treat them like responsible professional athletes, and you get on with your business.

He added, “They want to be successful. They want to play in a World Cup. Is that a recipe for success? I don’t know. I’m sure Honduras wants to play in a World Cup too.”

Arena, who took over for Jurgen Klinsmann following the U.S.’ collapse during the first two matches of the Hexagonal, is unbeaten in his first three games in charge since getting his job back with the Stars and Stripes.

Although there has been a considerable turnaround in the way the USMNT has performed in the first three matches of 2017, Arena wouldn’t stoop to comparing his style to that of Klinsmann.

“I’m not doing anything differently,” he said. “I’m not taking a survey [of the players]. I know it’s different. We lose tomorrow, there will be articles written that, ‘This a—— is letting these guys run loose.'”

“I have spent no time on the past. There’s nothing I can do about it. I kind of have a sense about things, but there’s no point in me spending time investigating what went on in the past. The idea was to get it going the right way from the start.”

Arena’s next test with the U.S. will be on Tuesday when the Yanks travel to Panama City to take on Panama.