Wolff, Beasley still shining after World Cup

Monday, July 29, 2002

LAKE FOREST, Ill.-- No one could have blamed Josh Wolff and DaMarcus Beasley if they'd taken some time off after their World Cup adventure.

They'd just spent a month on the wildest ride U.S. soccer has ever had, shocking the world as the Americans advanced to the World Cup quarterfinals. Why not take a few days and savor their accomplishments?

No way.

"I was itching to get back on the field," said Beasley, who sat out one game because of a bruised knee. "As soon as I got off the bus, I was ready to play."

After impressive showings at the World Cup, Beasley and Wolff have continued to shine with the Chicago Fire, their MLS club. In his first game back with the Fire, a 3-2 loss to the Colorado Rapids on July 4, Wolff had an assist.

Three days later, Wolff scored and Beasley had an assist in his return.

And against the New York-New Jersey MetroStars on July 13, Wolff scored twice in the second half, then had the assist on Beasley's game-winner in overtime.

"I think they come back from the World Cup confident," Fire coach Bob Bradley said. "They saw firsthand that they can play on that level. It's a good feeling for a player to experience that."

A team reunion

The two will be reunited with some of their World Cup teammates Saturday, when the U.S. squad plays the MLS All-Stars. Fire defender Chris Armas, who hurt his knee before the U.S. team left for Korea, will be the national team's honorary captain.

"The World Cup was very instrumental in the future of this league," said Wolff, who's spent his entire five-year pro career with the Fire. "I think the MLS guys proved it's a new league, it's a developing league, but put our players on the international scene, and they can deliver and possess the qualities that proven internationals have.

"That says a lot about a very young league and the type of players we're producing."

Wolff and Beasley were hardly strangers to the international scene before the World Cup. Wolff played in six games with the U.S. team and had a big role in the qualifying matches.

Beasley, at 20 the youngest player on the U.S. squad, earned MVP honors as a junior at the FIFA World Championship in November 1999.

But playing well in qualifiers and junior tournaments is a lot different than making a splash at the World Cup.

"It'll probably be one of those things when you look back in a couple of years, maybe winding up for the next World Cup," Wolff said. "The bar has been set. That sets a standard."

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