With two World Cups already under his belt, midfielder DaMarcus Beasley says he is welcoming his new role as a veteran leader for the US men's national team.
At the young age of 18, Beasley burst on the scene at the 2002 World Cup helping ignite the US to a memorable run to the tournament quarterfinals.
Now eight years later, the 27 year old winger is stepping forward to assume more of a veteran role, even though he says he still feels young at heart.
"I really don't consider myself old," Beasley remarked to YA following a training session at this week's selection camp. "I still consider myself one of the young guys. There's some banter and everything and it's fun. You still got Steve [Cherundolo], Carlos [Bocanegra] and Timmy [Howard] who are older but at the same time experience speaks for itself."
The Fort Wayne, Indiana native also adds that his gravitation towards becoming a mentor for younger players was fully supported by US head coach Bob Bradley.
"I like having a leadership role," he continued. "Bob is always pushing me to be more of a leader on and off the field so it's a position I'm trying to step into. Landon [Donovan] and Carlos have already stepped into those roles and now I'm trying to do the same."
As leaders of national teams come and go with age, one constant that the former PSV Eindhoven star has observed is that the camaraderie on the US team has always been at a high level.
"To be honest, all of the US teams have been great," he affirmed. "The teams I've been a part of in '02 and '06 were great and I think '10 is the same. We've integrated young guys who haven't been in and some new guys who also haven't been in and we've welcomed them with open arms. As long as they can help the team and push us along we're happy to have them."
One of the players making his first run at a World Cup is fellow midfielder Maurice Edu.
Edu and Beasley have spent the last two years together playing with Scottish club Rangers where Beasley has seen the young Californian rise to become one of the best midfielders in the Scottish Premier League.
When Edu suffered a crippling knee injury last May that kept him out of last summer's Confederations Cup, his teammate and compatriot was there to offer encouragement and support via his own injury experiences.
"I went through the same thing a year ago with my injury before he had his," Beasley said of his long absence during the 2008-2009 season. "I helped him as much as I could. He had suffered a bad injury before in his career with his other knee so he knew what to expect with getting back and getting frustrated. But then he got back on team and in the last six or seven games he played very well.
"Mo is a young guy and he had injuries before but it's different when it happens in a professional environment. You really don't know what to expect or how the coach will treat you when you come back. We helped each other and he's gotten here on his own. He's done a brilliant job at Rangers and gotten back on the team regularly and is playing well. I give all the credit to him now. He's a professional and knows the day to day hardships you go through."
The three years that the former Chicago Fire player spent at the Glasgow club were marred by injuries and a lack of playing time.
That fact has been hard for Beasley to swallow considering his deep desire to showcase his skills at Rangers. But, for whatever reason, whether it was an injury or a coach's decision, Beasley laments that he was never fully afforded that opportunity while with the Light Blues.
"I've always had confidence in my ability and how I play," Beasley firmly stated. "I never got a chance to prove that at Rangers. Any time I step on the field I always try to give my best. I try to give my all for the team."
Should he make his third World Cup squad, Bradley will likely slot Beasley into the right side of his midfield, a position he previously would not be enthused about playing, but now agrees that it actually plays more to his strengths.
"I enjoy the right side more so now," Beasley concluded. "From my PSV days I got used to playing on that side, so that's what I'm now more accustomed to. Also in December when I was playing well with Rangers I was playing there. I can cut to my left and go down the line... Really anywhere in the attacking formation I'll play and even left back if [Bradley] needs me."
Beasley and the rest of the US national team kick begin their World Cup send-off series on Tuesday evening when they take on the Czech Republic at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut.