If DaMarcus Beasley gets the call on Sunday, he’s ready to answer.
The U.S. World Cup star and new Dynamo Designated Player has only a couple of training sessions under his belt since joining the club last week, but he said on Thursday that he is good to go if selected to make his debut in the vital home game against D.C. United at BBVA Compass Stadium (7 p.m. CT; TICKETS).
Eastern Conference rivals were picking up points over the past few days while the Dynamo filled a bye week with last Saturday’s Charities Cup match against Aston Villa. So Houston enter Sunday’s clash with second-placed D.C. knowing that a win is hugely important as they look to close the gap on the teams above them as the season edges closer to its climax.
With transfer paperwork complete, both Beasley and new Honduran midfielder Luis Garrido are available, acting as a timely adrenalin shot to the Dynamo. Beasley’s most recent competitive match was the Americans’ defeat by Belgium in the World Cup round of 16 on July 1. He is focusing on the short-term as he prepares to open a new chapter in his career and make his first MLS appearance since the summer of 2004, when he left the Chicago Fire for Dutch side PSV Eindhoven and began a long and successful European adventure.
“I’m hungry, period. I’m hungry for Sunday, I’m not even talking about the playoffs. I’m talking about Sunday, getting my feet wet back in MLS, playing with these guys—I’m excited,” he told reporters.
“I’m looking at Sunday as a very important game in front of our fans and we’re here to get three points and hopefully climb up the table … I’ve been off for three weeks but I don’t really get unfit, I’m a pretty fit guy. The coach makes the decision. If he sees I need another week of training, I need another week of training. If he sees that I’m fit to play, I’m fit to play. It just depends on how he sees it.”
Beasley is 32 and has played for six clubs over 14 years, as well as accumulating 120 international caps and becoming the only American to appear in four World Cups. But he said that he still gets a thrill when he pulls on a new jersey and steps on to a field for the first time.
“I might get a little butterflies but once I touch the ball one time it goes away. It’s always fun to play a debut game for me, personally. You’re in front of new fans, the team, you want to make a good impression, obviously,” he said.
“You don’t want to think about it too much; you just go out there and play the game that you’ve been playing, the game that got you here. That’s what I do. I don’t think there’s so much pressure, ‘I’ve got to do this, I’ve got to do something extra’. No, I’m doing what I do and will try to help the team. I don’t want to do anything special that you guys have never seen before. You guys have seen me play, the team has seen me play, you know what I can do and I want to keep doing it at the highest level that I can.”
There is no level more elevated than the World Cup. Beasley was speaking at a special Brazil 2014 retrospective at Lucky’s Pub in East Downtown with three other Dynamo players who were at the tournament: American Brad Davis, Garrido and his fellow Honduran, Boniek García. With last week’s additions, Houston’s roster now has four men who played in Brazil: more than any other MLS club.
Davis is hopeful that the quartet’s post-Brazil afterglow will help them and their teammates down the stretch by supplying an infectious dose of self-belief. “You do bring confidence back from a World Cup—you just try and bring that within the group. You try and come back and play hard and play well and hopefully the team can feed off of the confidence we bring to them,” he said. “We’ve had a little bit of a tough skid, there’s no hiding that … but we can move forward with the addition of Beas and Luis, we’re excited.”
At the same time, Davis and Beasley stressed that the new signings cannot propel the club towards better results without a general improvement in the team’s performances. “It’s not just me, everybody needs to hold themselves accountable, the young players included. Brad, Boney, Jermaine [Taylor], Omar [Cummings], Ricardo [Clark], they know how to win. They’ve had tough seasons and gone to the final. They know how to do it. It’s just about the fact of them going out and showing their quality once again and going from there,” Beasley said.
“We are confident but we can’t be over confident. These guys in here are all great players but just because DaMarcus comes or Luis comes doesn’t mean we’re automatically in the finals,” said Davis. “We still have to figure out a way to win together. Them being here without a doubt helps. We just have to continue to work, get them integrated as quickly as possible, which I don’t think is going to be very difficult, figure out where the best place on the team is for everybody to compete, and go from there.”
Tom Dart is a contributing writer to HoustonDynamo.com and HoustonDashSoccer.com. Former editor and reporter for The Times of London and reporter for SI.com, Dart currently freelances for The Guardian.