Saturday’s match at BBVA Compass Stadium (7:15 p.m.; TICKETS) will bring together DaMarcus Beasley and Tim Howard—two legends of the United Stated men’s national team—for the first time in an MLS match since 2003. Beasley, the Dynamo captain, will lead his team against Howard, an old friend who has helped lead the Colorado Rapids to a tie for the second-best record in the league.
Both players had decorated national team careers and followed a similar path in their club careers, starting in MLS before an extended spell of success in Europe was followed by a return to their home league.
Beasley, 34, is the only American to play in four FIFA World Cups (2002, 2006, 2010, 2014). Howard, 37, is the most-capped goalkeeper in American history (110) and helped guide the U.S. to the knockout round in each of the last two tournaments while setting a World Cup record with 16 saves in an extra time defeat to Belgium in 2014.
“He’s one of the best goalkeepers that we’ve ever produced,” Beasley told HoustonDynamo.com. “At one point, especially when he was at [Manchester United], he was one of the best goalkeepers in the world. There’s no doubting his quality. He’s a competitor and it’s always good to play with him.”
After making a name in MLS, Beasley had large roles with several renowned European clubs, starting both legs of a UEFA Champions League semifinal with PSV Eindhoven in 2005 before stints with Manchester City and Rangers.
Howard famously joined Manchester United in 2003 and won three trophies, then moved to Everton in 2006 and made more than 400 appearances across a decade before returning to the U.S. with the Rapids this summer.
“I know what he brings, period,” Beasley added. “His leadership, being commanding from the back, being very demanding of the back four. That’s just the person and type of player he is. He leads by example.”
Beasley joined the Dynamo in August 2014 and praised Howard’s transition into the Rapids, who started the season in strong defensive form under goalkeeper Zac MacMath.
“He’s fit in well with the group and that’s always a tough thing sometimes when you go to a new team, to fit in with the guys. But with Timmy and his personality, I’m sure he fits in perfectly and he doesn’t have any problems.”
Dynamo interim head coach Wade Barrett knows the effect a top goalkeeper can have on a team. The former left back played in front of Pat Onstad and Joe Cannon, who combined to win four straight MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Awards from 2002-05.
“In addition to good play as a goalkeeper, he’s a leader,” Barrett said about Howard. “He’s communicating, he’s talking, he’s helping guys organize. You can’t underestimate the importance of something like that, when you have somebody who really takes a grasp of that leadership of really taking a responsibility for cleaning situations up and making sure that everything is buttoned down. You can see that he’s in constant communication with guys across the back line, with guys in midfield. You see that, it has a real effect on what happens. He’s been a good pro for a long time and he’s a very good competitor.”
After countless national team camps and international tournaments as teammates, the pair of veterans will be opponents on Saturday. Beasley has been an attacking focal point on the left side while leading a team that’s improved defensively under Barrett. Howard has seven shutouts in 13 starts and the Rapids are poised for a top-two finish in the West and a bye for the knockout round in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.
“It will be good to see Timmy,” Beasley said. “I look forward to playing against him and hopefully we come out with three points.”