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.