DaMarcus Beasley isn’t getting emotional about facing the Fire for the last time. Playing his final MLS season before retirement, Beasley and the Houston Dynamo are in a tight race for a playoff spot and need three points, and that’s where his focus lies.
But the Fire’s tradition still means something to Beasley, who has “so much love and admiration for the club” that propelled his career. That’s true even though pretty much everything about the franchise has turned over since he left in 2004 for the Netherlands’ PSV Eindhoven.
“The club is still the club,” Beasley told the Sun-Times. “There’s no one person, one player, anyone bigger than the club itself. That’s the fans. That’s the people that make it great, the people that come out and watch the team every week, the people that try to put butts in the seats. That’s what makes the club and the tradition how it is. For me, that part, being the Fire, that will never change.”
That may not go away, but more team-altering changes could be on the horizon. One of those could be the name.
Like many people, Beasley is trying to decide how much a moniker truly defines a franchise. If it does change and the club is the Fire no more, Beasley doesn’t want the traditions and positives of the team to be discarded with the name.
“It’s difficult to say about the name,” Beasley said. “If a name can change… what’s in a name? How important is a name to the club, to the city, and all that? I’m always going to associate with the Fire. Simple as that. If it does change, I just think it goes along the lines of, hope the tradition and hope that other things don’t change.
“The name might change, but not as far as different things going throughout the club: how you treat people every day, the mentality of the club, the mentality to win.”
When Beasley was with the Fire from 2000-04, they were one of American soccer’s best teams, winning a pair of U.S. Open Cup titles and the 2003 Supporters’ Shield. Beasley said “it felt like you were a part of something great” and the mentality was all about winning. Beasley remembers how he felt “nothing but love” from everybody with the Fire, starting with the ownership all the way through the trainers.
In the stands, the fans’ chanting and singing and flares gave Soldier Field what was then a unique atmosphere for MLS, and Beasley hopes that vibe would return to the lakefront along with the team.
He also wants whatever’s best for the Fire and the fans. If that means going back to the city, he’s in favor.
“If they feel that’s the best for the club, for the fans, is to get that tradition, that family-oriented club back to where it needs to be, then great,” Beasley said. “If it works for all parties, then great. Hopefully that’s what they’re trying to do and that’ll happen.”