DaMarcus Beasley deserves more credit than he is likely to get for becoming the only American to play in four World Cups for the United States men's national team.
"Only 22 players in the tournament's history have played in four World Cups. Beasley is expected to join that elite list when the U.S. faces Ghana Monday in its group opener," wrote Matthew Glenesk recently for the Indianapolis Star.
That said, Beasley's start against Ghana was a surprise. And on the evidence of his play and Ghana's intent attack of Beasley, he cannot start against Portugal.
"Beasley started two of the United States' three sendoff games at left back and at the very least should appear as a substitute during the group stages," Glenesk noted.
Jurgen Klinsmann's decision to start 32-year-old Beasley over the perhaps speedier 24-year-old Timmy Chandler was a nod to Beasley's extensive international experience.
It was also an indictment of Chandler's play in the run-up to Brazil.
In writing up the United States' 2-1 victory over Turkey in their friendly earlier this month, Frank Giase of the Star-Ledger had faint praise for the Americans' back line. He saved his most direct criticism for Chandler.
"The unit had its shaky moments, especially Chandler, who played a poor game," wrote Giase.
To give Beasley credit one final time before burying him, Beasley played a gritty, determined match against Ghana. He had to because Ghana very clearly had Beasley's side targeted as a weak spot until Matt Besler came off for John Brooks due to injury.
At that point, the Black Stars changed course and poured their attack at the 21-year-old Brooks, a player thought to be well out of his depth in this World Cup.
Brooks certainly seemed comfortable enough nodding home Graham Zusi's corner kick in the 86th minute to provide the winning margin.
Whether Besler can go against Portugal or not, the Americans cannot hope to survive with a vulnerable Beasley fighting time and Cristiano Ronaldo at left-back against Portugal.
As Eric Wynalda said to Joshua Mayers of the Seattle Times when the Americans' 23-man roster was announced, "Experience is one thing, but Ronaldo is running at you, you need to have the athleticism to run with him."
Clint Dempsey's goal in the first minute permitted the Americans to sit back, defend and take the occasional counter run out when it presented itself. As an added bonus for the Americans, the Ghanians' blinding speed on the wings was largely neutralized as so many Americans started behind the ball.
On the rare occasion when Beasley was called on to go forward, though, he was badly exposed on the counter.
In retrospect, as the Ghana match played out, Beasley was absolutely the right choice. Once the Americans scored early, they did not need blazing speed or athleticism at right-back. They needed poise and strength, and Beasley provided that.
But the Americans are outrageously unlikely to score early against Portugal, no matter how dire their display against Germany was.
Chandler should start against Portugal, a side that the Americans can afford to try to play with on even terms.
Beasley should then return against Germany, where the Americans would be well-advised to park another red, white and blue bus. Especially if a draw against the Germans will see them through.
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