It has been a very active couple of days in Major League Soccer, with U.S. international DaMarcus Beasley returning to the league, English national teamer Frank Lampard signing on with expansion side New York City FC, and former U.S., international Jay DeMerit retiring from the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Around the soccer world Lampard, Chelsea’s all-time leading goalscorer, may be the biggest story of the three, but for fans of the U.S. MNT, Beasley the only American to play in four World Cups, and DeMerit, the ultimate underdog, would take some beating.
Beasley, whip thin and whippet quick, burst onto the U.S. soccer landscape in 2000 as an exciting young attacker for the Chicago Fire. Beasley managed to force his way into Bruce Arena’s plans for the 2002 World Cup in Japan/South Korea, and promptly combined with fellow 20 year old Landon Donovan to throw a scare into the soccer establishment, as the U.S. went all the way to the quarterfinals.
From there Beasley tried his hand in Europe, most successfully with PSV Eindhoven, where he made his mark in Champions League play. Run DMB had some success with Glasgow Rangers, less with pre-Sheik Manchester City, and none at all with Hannover 96. That last sent Beasley to Puebla, Mexico where he revived his career and earned a shocking recall to the national team as a fullback.
Beasley justified Jurgen Klinsmann’s most audacious move to the degree that Beasley played every minute of the 2014 World Cup at left fullback, delivering a composed, professional performance at his new position.
Now Beasley returns to MLS as a Houston Dynamo. Beas landed a DP contract from the Dynamo, and who can say he hasn’t earned it?
Jay DeMerit’s path to the U.S. MNT was so unlikely that someone made a movie out of it, The Jay DeMerit Story. And why not? DeMerit was playing non-conference soccer and rooming with a friend in England when their humble squad played a friendly against Watford, a humble enough bunch themselves.
The rugged DeMerit impressed, and Watford signed him up. Eventually DeMerit scored the goal that got Watford into the English Premier League. DeMerit ended up starting at center back for the U.S. in South Africa, surely a story ripe for Hollywood.
And that leaves Lampard. One of the greats of the English Premier League era, the goal scoring midfielder accumulated more goals than anyone in Chelsea history, while picking up over 100 caps for England.
At 36 years old Lampart may not be the player he once was, he played in just the final meaningless World Cup game in Brazil for the Three Lions. But Lampard played well enough for Chelsea last season to make the World Cup squad, and he should have plenty left to make his mark in MLS.
“I am really excited about joining New York City FC and helping to play a real part in building something special in one of the sporting capitals of the world,” said Lampard. “The passion of the nation’s fans at the World Cup was second to none and I am looking forward to meeting New Yorkers and tapping into their love of the game. It is a privilege to be able to help make history here in New York City – I just can’t wait to get started and be part of it.”
And as busy as these few days have been in MLS, remember, the summer transfer season is just getting warmed up.