DaMarcus Beasley

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Decision Day Recap: Vela breaks record; Dallas, Timbers clinch playoffs; Howard, Beasley play final game

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MLS Decision Day is behind us, and the league has a new single season goalscoring king and a complete lineup for the MLS Cup playoffs.

One goal short of breaking Josef Martinez’s record set last season, Carlos Vela erupted for a hat trick in LAFC’s 3-1 win over the Colorado Rapids on Decision Day, lifting the single season goalscoring record to 34 goals.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

In 31 games, LAFC’s captain recorded a total of 34 goals and 15 assists, an average of 1.62 goals plus assists per game.The Mexican finished four goals above LA Galaxy’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic (30) and seven above former record holder Martinez (27). In other words, the 30-year-old placed his foot firmly on the pedal and never let go.

Following the game, Bob Bradley, as expected, was full of praise for the Mexican, who more than doubled his goal count of 14 last season and was crucial in the team’s historic season, which saw them lift the Supporter’s Shield and set the most points in a single season.

Some may say it’s up for debate (it’s really not), but Vela’s season should be considered as the league’s best ever.

FC Dallas, Portland Timbers clinch spot in MLS Cup playoff field

In convincing fashion, FC Dallas and the Portland Timbers punched their tickets into the the MLS Cup playoffs.

In Frisco, specifically, first-year coach Luchi Gonzalez and company took the “win and your in” motto to heart, drilling a helpless Sporting Kansas City 6-0. Every player in Dallas’ front four bagged goals, with defender Matt Hedges contributing one of his own in the 12th minute.

Over in Portland, the Timbers sent Matias Almeyda and the San Jose Earthquakes packing, edging past them 3-1 with to second-half goals from Dairon Asprilla and Sebastian Blanco.

After conceding a goal in the 29th minute, the Quakes responded within 10 minutes when Chris Wondolowski header home his 15th goal of the season. It wasn’t enough for the Black-and-Blue, however, as a ghost of the past hunted them once again: second-half meltdowns.

After placing as high as second in the Western Conference over the summer, the Quakes ended their season on a six-game losing streak and four points short of the cut.

Tim Howard, DaMarcus Beasley say goodbye to the beautiful game

Decision Day also saw the illustrious careers of Tim Howard and DaMarcus Beasley come to a close – two U.S. soccer legends and trailblazers.

Howard hangs up the boots after a 22-year journey that saw him play in the United States and England, where he featured for Manchester United and Everton. At Everton, the New Jersey native recorded 414 appearances in a decade-long career. The 40-year-old also recorded 121 caps with the U.S. men’s national team, eighth in the all-time list.

At 37 years of age, Beasley, too, is riding off into the sunset.

The longtime fullback completes a career that started 20 years ago, and saw him play in Holland, England, Scotland, Germany, Mexico and the United States. Throughout that stretch, Beasley won multiple titles with Rangers, two Eredivisie’s with PSV and three U.S. Open Cups with the Chicago Fire and, most recently, with the Houston Dynamo.

On an international level, the Indiana native featured 126 times for the USMNT, scoring on 17 occasions. Like Howard, Beasley hoisted multiple Gold Cup’s with the Stars and Stripes.

DaMarcus Beasley has some fixes for American soccer

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NEW YORK (AP) DaMarcus Beasley wants to stick around soccer when he retires at the end of the MLS season.

He just wants to move upstairs.

Beasley has no interest in coaching, but he wants to try the management side of the sport he has played for decades. And the captain of the Houston Dynamo thinks he has something to offer, too.

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“I would love to learn the business side of football,” Beasley told The Associated Press. “What it takes to put a team together day-in, day-out. That part of it intrigues me a lot.”

The 37-year-old Beasley is heading into the final stretch of a decorated playing career. The Dynamo (9-13-3) have dropped four in a row heading into Saturday night’s game against Colorado, and they are going to need a strong finish to extend Beasley’s 20-year career into the playoffs.

Beasley is the only American to play in four World Cups or appear in a Champions League semifinal. The former PSV and Manchester City left back played his last international match during the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, which concluded with the U.S. missing the World Cup for the first time since 1986.

Beasley thinks structural changes are needed to get the U.S. back into soccer’s premier event, but concedes much of the minutia eludes him.

“Do I want change? Yeah. Do I know the ins and outs about how to go about it? Not really,” Beasley said. “Once I think I get into that role, or whatever role I’ll be in on the business side of football, then I’ll know this needs to change, that needs to change. This is the way this could work.”

Beasley, a Fort Wayne, Indiana native, believes ego is getting in the way of that institutional change.

“All the soccerheads, we all want the same thing. I think one thing we all need to stop doing, 100%, is that everyone thinks they know everything. No one wants to listen. A lot of coaches just say that my way is the right way. Very stuck-up, very ego-driven,” Beasley said. “That part I don’t like. I have my own schools, my soccer camps, and if I try to go to another city, they’ll say `Oh no, I know what I’m doing. We don’t need anything.’ It’s like, I’m not trying to take over anything. That part needs to change, 100%. The egos with the people that have power to make decisions. They need to change and open their minds and try to one day, hopefully win the World Cup. That’s what the whole thing is about.”

America’s youth soccer system has been cited by critics as part of the problem. The United States’ pay-to-play programs can make it more difficult for some households to participate.

“More of the rich kids get a chance than the little guy that just works just as hard and is probably even better but doesn’t have the ends to make ends meet and to make those sacrifices for their kids,” Beasley said.

Another oft-cited inadequacy is a reliance on athleticism as opposed to developing individual skill and team harmony. Beasley stressed that American soccer’s policymakers need to be open to diversifying its on-field philosophies.

“To have one style it’s – we’re not Brazil,” he said. “We can’t keep saying, `Oh, we want to be like Brazil. We want to be like Argentina.”‘

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

USMNT hero Beasley to retire after MLS season

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One of the best American exports of all-time is retiring after this season.

DaMarcus Beasley, who played in the top flight in six countries, will finish his playing career after this season with the Houston Dynamo.

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Beasley was capped 126 times in 17 years for the USMNT, and won four Gold Cups in addition to playing in four World Cups.

Beyond MLS level, where Beasley was an MLS All-Star before and after his European adventure, he played for PSV Eindhoven, Rangers, Manchester City, and Hannover 96. He also spent three seasons with Puebla in Liga MX.

The soon-to-be 37-year-old Beasley has been looking but not playing like everyone on the field’s uncle for some time, so there was definitely an air of immortality about the left back even if we knew this day was not too far off in the distance.

There are not too many players in USMNT history who’d rate above Beasley in terms of legacy and achievement — maybe Claudio Reyna, Clint Dempsey, Brian McBride, Landon Donovan, Tim Howard, and Carlos Bocanegra as deep but incomplete list? We wish him well, and a happy ending with Houston playing so well.

Beasley to miss 4-6 weeks with knee injury

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One of Major League Soccer’s elder statesman could have used this injury as a sign it’s time to hang up the boots. Instead, it will just be a brief spell on the sidelines.

DaMarcus Beasley posted a post-operation photo after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery, according to the Houston Dynamo. Beasley said “I’ll be back in a flash” in his Instagram post after the surgery. The Dynamo did not specify when Beasley suffered this injury, but the 36-year-old has not played for the club in its first three league matches this season.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

If Beasley returns within the next four to six weeks, it would put his return around the middle to end of April. The Dynamo have a pair of home games at the end of April into May, against the Columbus Crew and FC Dallas, which may be a good time to bring Beasley back.

Open Cup Final preview: Union, Dynamo chase first USOC

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A first time winner of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is guaranteed, and on Wednesday we’ll find out whether the trophy is headed to Philadelphia or Houston.

For what it’s worth, teams from Philadelphia have won the cup in previous editions dating back to the mid-1930s and well into the 1960s, but neither the Philadelphia Union nor the Houston Dynamo have snared glory in this particular celebrated tournament.

[ MORE: Man Utd-Derby recap, League Cup wrap ]

The Union have come the closest more often, losing back to back finals in 2014 and 2015, while the Dynamo play host in their first ever USOC final.

“This isn’t like any other game,” said DaMarcus Beasley. “There’s no tomorrow in this. Whatever you put into this game is what you’re going to get out of it, because it’s one and done. That’s what I’ve told all the players. It’s one night. You get 90 minutes… to prove that you’re the best team on that day.”

As for the Union, the memories of finals lost are more motivation than anything. From Philly.com:

“I would like them to write their own history,” Gaddis said. “Every game is a new game, every day is a new day. What’s in the past is in the past, but what we can try to control — we can’t control the future — is trying to win the first trophy for this organization.”

Philly feels the better bet, having fairly firm control of a playoff spot in the East while Houston’s stuck 10th in the West, but don’t forget that the Union traveled a long way from home while Dynamo’s plus-4 goal differential — better than five current playoff teams –shows they aren’t a mess.