Weekend with Beasley

Playing 180 minutes in 48 hours is often a tough turn around for any player. It’s also one that Chicago Fire U18 Academy captain Peter Beasley is used to.

The nature of the U.S. Soccer Developmental Academy is that way, as the majority of games are played back-to-back on weekends to limit travel costs, though Beasley’s past weekend was something more of an adventure.

The Naperville, IL product played 90 minutes in the U18 Academy’s loss to local rivals Chicago Magic before jumping on a plane almost immediately after the match to join the Chicago Fire first team Saturday night in Denver.

While there were no illusions that the 17-year-old defender would be seeing action in that night’s MLS match against the Rapids, Beasley, who has committed to playing college soccer at Northwestern, was slated to play in the next morning’s reserve league game.

The 6-0 defender became the first Fire Academy product to start in the Reserve League, logging another 90 minutes in central defense, this time next to Kwame Watson-Siriboe as the Fire mounted a second half come-back to win the match 2-1.

“It was a lot of playing in a short amount of time,” said Beasley. “Especially with the flights -- it was taxing on the body but it was definitely worth it, I’m glad I had the opportunity.”

Beasley was joined in Denver by fellow Academy players, midfielders Manny Guzman and Brady Wahl, both of whom came into Sunday’s reserve match as second half substitutes.

The appearance wasn’t the first in the Reserves for either Beasley or Wahl, who both came on as substitutes in the team’s 3-0 win over Houston on April 24.

While Wahl saw spot minutes in that match, Beasley, the only defender on the bench, knew he would be entering the game at some point as Mike Videira, who played 25 minutes the night before, could only play 65 in the reserve game.

Beasley came on in the 65th minute.

Having logged 115 minutes in the Reserves, Beasley is positive about his performance thus far.

“There’s definitely room for improvement,” he said. “Overall I think I’ve played pretty well. I’ve shown I can compete but I definitely have a lot to learn from the guys on the field. It’s a learning experience that I’m trying to improve upon.”

If you’re wondering how this is all possible without endangering the player’s collegiate eligibility, the NCAA altered its rules regarding professionals and amateurs playing together last year. Under the new terms, at least as it relates to MLS, up to five Academy players are eligible to dress for MLS Reserve League games, adding another great benefit for players wondering which Academy program can provide more.

“Being in the Fire Academy is great,” Beasley said. “We obviously do get time to interact and be around the first team, a few of us have trained with them in the past and now we can play with them in competitive games. That coupled with the facilities and the coaching staff we have makes the developmental experience one of a kind.”

Beasley joined Academy teammate Luis Media at first team training Thursday morning.

For now though, it’s back to focusing on the Academy season for Beasley and his teammates, as the U18 side, which features many members of the 2010 U16 National Championship team has found some difficulty at the halfway point of the 2010-11 campaign.

“Everyone says it’s hard to repeat and I guess we’re learning that. We haven’t had the best start to the season but I think everything’s there – we just have to make it click.”

The Chicago Fire Academy will welcome the Ohio contingent from the USSFDA to Toyota Park this weekend as they take on the Cleveland Internationals Saturday (U18s at 11am, U16s at 1pm) and Columbus Crew Academy Sunday (same times).

All four matches will take place on the Toyota Park Turf Field and are free and open to the public.

Jeff Crandall is the Team Writer for the Chicago Fire. Follow him on Twitter @JefeCrandall.