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'Jitterbug' Beasley has chance to bounce back
by Mike Woitalla, August 30th, 2010 8:39PM

TAGS:  americans abroad, men's national team, my view


[MY VIEW] DaMarcus Beasley has joined Germany's Hannover 96, his fourth club in four different countries since he left the Chicago Fire for the Netherlands PSV Eindhoven in 2004. After he enjoyed a stellar start in Europe, the tricky dribbler's career went into an injury-plagued decline and we saw only 10 minutes of him 2010 World Cup, where the brilliance he displayed in his early years was sorely missed.

The spindly Indiana product emerged on the national scene as part of the golden generation of teens that included Landon Donovan and finished fourth at the 1999 U-17 World Cup. Beasley was voted Silver Ball MVP, runner-up to Golden Ball winner Donovan.

His U-17 national team coach, John Ellinger, called him “Jitterbug.”

"He can stop on a dime, he can turn on a dime," Ellinger said. "He jitters all over the place and you don't ever know where he's going to end up."

The USA, which has a dismal record of producing dribblers, finally seemed to have a player who could deliver the unpredictability that unhinges defenses and creates scoring chances.

Beasley debuted in MLS in 2000 at age 17. Two years later he started the first three games of the USA’s quarterfinal run at the 2002 World Cup – his darting forays down the flank helped the USA upset pre-tournament favorite Portugal, 3-2, in the opener.

But knee problems kept Beasley out of the second-round games. His struggles of late to keep a regular spot on the national team, or with Glasgow Rangers, for which he had just 20 league starts in three years, have one wondering how great a toll his injuries have taken.

When he joined PSV Eindhoven, Beasley thrived. He became the first American to reach the semifinals of the Champions League and during that run scored four goals in 11 appearances.

He won two Dutch league titles with Eindhoven, whose coach, Guus Hiddink, had acquired him as a replacement for Arjen Robben.

But after another knee injury he was sent to Manchester City on loan. He had 11 EPL starts and seven appearances as a sub, scoring three goals.

In 93 appearances for the USA, Beasley has scored 17 goals. But at the last World Cup – which he entered at what should be a player's prime -- he stayed on the bench for all of 10 minutes, during which he was yellow-carded during the 1-0 win over Algeria.

Beasley joins a club in Germany captained by his U.S. teammate Steve Cherundolo, who has been with Hannover 96 since 1999. Hannover has given other Americans a try but neither Clint Mathis nor Sal Zizzo stayed long.

Coach Mirko Slomka signed Beasley to replace another playmaking winger, the Portuguese Carlitos, who suffered a serious knee injury shortly after signing earlier this month.

Hannover barely escaped relegation last season and is unlikely to give Beasley another chance at the Champions League. But it does give him an opportunity to revive his career and return to the national team, for which he was once so important.

The two-year contract Hannover gave Beasley will extend his European career to eight years, one of the longest tenures an American attacker has ever enjoyed in Europe.

  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: September 1, 2010 at 12:41 p.m.
    John Ellinger, called him “Jitterbug.” "He can stop on a dime, he can turn on a dime," Ellinger said. "He jitters all over the place and you don't ever know where he's going to end up." Great, what about decision-making and execution qualities? What about consistency?

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