Not long ago, DaMarcus Beasley figured he'd be home in Miami by right now.
He was dropped from the U.S. national team last June after a big mistake led to a goal by Brazil in the Confederations Cup. Then he was benched by Glasgow Rangers for much of the just-completed season.
At 28, an age when many football players are in their prime, he thought his international career might be over.
But Bob Bradley gave him another chance, and Beasley responded with a strong training camp last month.
The result? He's getting ready for his third World Cup.
"I had a tough year last year," he said Wednesday as roosters crowed and cows mooed outside the interview tent on the farm adjacent to the U.S. team's hotel. "I never thought I would be able to be this position."
His youthful accomplishments were impeccable.
Just 18 when he made his first national team appearance against China in January 2001, he combined with Landon Donovan to give the Americans youth and energy during their surprising run to the World Cup quarterfinals in South Korea the following year.
He went on to join PSV Eindhoven under Guus Hiddink in 2004 and scored four Champions League goals, becoming the first American to play in a semifinal.
But his output dropped off during 2005-06, and he had a terrible game in the opening 3-0 loss to the Czech Republic at the 2006 World Cup, getting shifted to the right flank from the left to make room for Bobby Convey.
"We got nothing out of Beasley on the night," bristled then U.S. coach Bruce Arena, who also criticized several other players.
Beasley was loaned to Manchester City for 2006-07, then joined Glasgow Rangers. He was hurt for significant stretches of his three seasons in Scotland, and had just two goals in 14 appearances this season.
Before December, he played in just three club matches in the first half of the season, slowed by a hamstring injury sustained in August. Even worse, when he failed to read Donovan's short corner kick against Brazil last June, it led to a Kaka pass that helped feed Robinho's goal. The next stop was national team exile.
"DaMarcus had a stretch where things had not been going well with his club, and at the same time then when we were making roster decisions for camps and games … we made the decision not to bring him into our group," said Bradley, who succeeded Arena as national team coach in December 2006.
"That's a tough thing for any player, especially a player who has experience and a history with the national team."
Beasley wasn't used for the three remaining matches of the Confederations Cup, and was ignored for the final five World Cup qualifiers and two exhibitions in Europe.
Then Beasley scored two goals in a five-day span for Rangers in December, attracting some attention. Just as he was starting to regain form, he tore a quadriceps during training (an injury he still ices) and didn't return until Valentine's Day.
While he was out, his BMW was set on fire outside his home in Glasgow on Feb. 1, an incident he won't comment about.
Bradley put him on the roster for the March 3 exhibition at the Netherlands. Beasley entered in the 34th minute for Stuart Holden, who broke a leg on a hard tackle by Nigel de Jong.
Beasley had an impressive game, spending the rest of the first half on the right and the second on the left. His 35-yard free kick set up Carlos Bocanegra's goal in the Americans' 2-1 loss.
"In Holland in March, we saw the DaMarcus that we know, and I think something has clicked in his head and I think he's figuring out now what it takes to be an elite player and now we see that again," Donovan said.
"We all figure out things out at different points and it seems like something has switched on and he realizes what this means and it's good to see him passionate and really wanting this."
Beasley played in just three league and two cup matches for Rangers after that, possibly because his contract was coming to an end. He's already decided to seek a new club for next season. But he kept up a good frame of mind.
Bradley thinks getting shunned for a lengthy period was key.
"Not being called in had hit him," the coach said. "Now, he had a different way about him."
With 91 international appearances, Beasley now stands a chance to reach 100.
"I like being the old guy now. I like being the veteran. I like having more of a leadership role," Beasley said. "Bob is always pushing me to be more of a leader, on and off the field. That's a position I'm trying to step into."