When the United States Men’s National Team stepped onto the field at the Rose Bowl on January 19, 2002, they were preparing to begin the 2002 Gold Cup with a squad that contained a mix of veterans from the 90s and some fresh blood looking to take the team into the 21st century. One of those players was DaMarcus Beasley, a then 19-year-old winger who had appeared on the scene and was ready to help lead the new school of talent into that summer’s World Cup.
The opener of the Gold Cup saw them face South Korea, and in the 36th minute, Landon Donovan, also 19 at the time, opened the scoring for the USMNT. That early lead would only last 2 minutes, as Song Chong-Gug would equalize for the Koreans.
DaMarcus Beasley would enter the match in the 79th minute for Eddie Lewis determined to make a difference. Still, the score was deadlocked at 1-1 all the way until the 90th minute, when the USMNT were pressing for a victory. The Americans earned a throw in just on their side of midfield, and Cobi Jones threw the ball with velocity forward in the air to Landon Donovan, who was running behind the defense deep in in the final third. Donovan popped a pass on the half volley to Jeff Cunningham right outside the top of the penalty box. Cunningham let the ball bounce before he also half volleyed a pass over a Korean defender to the left side of the box, where Beasley was streaking in. Letting the ball hit the turf and then pop up, Beasley unleashed a rocket with his left foot that rose right into the net.
It was an amazing first goal for DaMarcus Beasley, and it was the game winner for the USMNT, who rushed over to celebrate with Beasley in the corner. Beasley, who had his shirt off over his neck, was taking it all in. The U.S. had their victory, and it came from the young’un on the team.
DaMarcus Beasley would go on to appear in 4 World Cups for the USMNT (2002, 2006, 2010, 2014) and 5 World Cup qualifying cycles (2002, 2006, 2010, 2014, 2018). He became the first American and one of a few in world history to accomplish those feats. Somehow, he’s still playing today at a high level, and there are some players who weren’t born when Beasley became a Gold Cup hero for the United States on a January day at the Rose Bowl. Still, we look back at that day with pride as one of the laundry list of accomplishments for DaMarcus Beasley.