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Former Toronto FC fullback Beitashour calls time on 14-year MLS career

Steven Beitashour Pedro Santos Toronto FC Columbus Crew Steven Beitashour Pedro Santos - The Canadian Press

Former Toronto FC fullback Steven Beitashour, part of TFC's treble-winning championship team in 2017, has announced his retirement after 14 years in Major League Soccer.

"It’s never easy to say goodbye … but it’s time to say goodbye to the beautiful game and hang up my boots," The 36-year-old American-born Iranian international said in a social media post.

"This journey has been nothing short of extraordinary," he added. "And I leave the soccer field with a heart full of memories, lessons learned and gratitude."

Beitashour played 305 regular-season and playoff games (with 284 starts) with the San Jose Earthquakes, Vancouver Whitecaps, Toronto, Los Angeles FC and Colorado Rapids.

“You know what you’re going to get from him every single day,” former Toronto coach Greg Vanney once said of Beitashour. “He comes out and he just puts his work boots on and he plays and he competes.”

“He’s just a honest-working guy, every single day, and gives you everything he has. Those are the guys you love to have on your team,” Vanney added.

It was Beitashour who used his left foot to deliver the cross that Benoit Cheyrou headed in to give TFC a 6-5 aggregate lead in the dying seconds of the 2016 MLS Eastern Conference final.

Beitashour's first taste of MLS was as a nine-year-old ballboy with the then-San Jose Clash (now Earthquakes) in the first-ever MLS match April 6, 1996.

San Jose eventually drafted him in the second round (30th overall) of the 2010 MLS SuperDraft out of San Diego State, where he was a walk-on. In 2012, Beitashour was named an MLS all-star and helped the Quakes to the Supporters' Shield.

Beitashour signed with Vancouver after his contract with San Jose ran out. And he was traded to Toronto in December 2015 for a second-round draft pick.

Beitashour, goalkeeper Clint Irwin, centre back Drew Moor and Canadian midfielder Will Johnson proved to be timely additions for TFC after the 2015 season, helping the club to its biggest on-field triumphs.

In 2017, Beitashour survived a life-threatening on-field collision with Montreal Impact defender Kyle Fisher in the Canadian Championship final that necessitated pancreas surgery.

Beitashour finished out the match but didn’t sleep that night because he couldn’t find a position that didn’t hurt.

The next day he went in early to the Toronto training centre where team officials immediately ordered him to the emergency room.

Amazingly he drove the 17.5 kilometres himself, throwing up en route. Every bump felt like he was “being stabbed in my stomach,” he said later.

Doctors later told him it was the kind of internal damage they typically see as a result of a car crash.

In 2019, he won the Supporters' Shield again, this time with LAFC. Beitashour signed with Colorado as a free agent in September 2020,

In 2012, he was called up by the U.S. team and was on the bench but didn’t dress for an August game again Mexico at Azteca Stadium. Beitashour, who had undergone sport hernia surgery after the 2012 season, was invited to the U.S. national team camp in January 2013 but had to leave because of complications due to the surgery.

Beitashour, whose parents are from Iran, then got a call from the Iranian team. He made his debut in Tehran against Thailand in October 2013, with the fans chanting his name in the warmup.


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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 13, 2023.