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LAFC 2018 Player Postmortem: Steven Beitashour

Veteran put in another strong campaign in MLS.

MLS: Los Angeles FC at Colorado Rapids Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Steven Beitashour was one of Los Angeles Football Club’s allotted two MLS Free Agent signings in 2018, alongside fellow fullback Jordan Harvey. Beitashour was coming off an eventful 2017 campaign, one where his Toronto FC team won a domestic treble, but also one where he suffered a freak internal organ injury during a game and needed emergency surgery.

The good news was that Beitashour returned to finish the successful season with Toronto FC, and with it apparent he would likely be a victim of TFC’s salary cap glut after the season, he signed the deal with LAFC and moved back to his native California.

While Beitashour didn’t start every single game — rookie Tristan Blackmon made five starts in his place at right back over the course of the season, the veteran was ever-present for the expansion side, demonstrating once again why he’s been one of the most dependable right backs in MLS the past several years.

Beitashour LAFC 2018 statistics

2018 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
2018 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
MLS Regular Season 30 30 2,644 2 4 9 3 3 0
U.S. Open Cup 3 3 300 0 0 0 0 0 0
MLS Playoffs 1 1 90 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 34 34 3,034 2 4 9 3 3 0

I think that while LAFC’s defense was at various times far from a lockdown unit, and LAFC’s playing style exposed the flaws of the defenders even more than usual, Beitashour was overall the most consistent player. Part of that comes from being a fullback, sure, and of all the defenders, LAFC’s playing style fit his game the best. Beitashour had played mostly as a wingback in 2017 for TFC, and while LAFC played a standard back four for nearly every game, he was able to play a hybrid between the bombing wingback and more defense-focused fullback. With Harvey, who himself had been a very attacking left back when he previously played in Vancouver, staying more at home this year and not pushing up into the attack nearly as much for LAFC, Beitashour became a fourth or fifth scoring option for the black-and-gold, and also did a good job as a defender on the right.

It’s hard to really gauge Beitashour in MLS these days. He’s a known quantity, who had a run of being underrated when he was at previous stops with the San Jose Earthquakes, Whitecaps and TFC, but now that he’s 31 he’s kind of overlooked in terms of what he does for whatever team he is on. Every season in MLS, there’s a fullback who emerges to have a career year, then after he draws all kinds of accolades, backslides tremendously the following year and never approaches that level of play again.

Beitashour is not that player. His consistency is probably his best quality, but also, he’s been consistently good. LAFC have many questions in terms of their style and defenders being capable of winning titles, but I would submit that Beitashour is not a question mark, and likely won’t be over the next couple years either, provided he remains healthy.

While it would have been a nice surprise story to see Beitashour go back to the World Cup in 2018, after he was named to Iran’s provisional roster, having not been part of the program since the 2014 World Cup, Iran’s loss was LAFC’s gain in the end. Frankly, he likely wouldn’t have played in Russia anyway, so he got to continue doing what he does best, for a club team that was playing him nearly every game.

Plus, he got a chance to stretch his proverbial legs off the field and host a web show, “Beita Time,” where his relaxed demeanor was often fanlike when interviewing his teammates. I know I learned a lot about the guys during these episodes, so that was a nice little bonus.

Beitashour is under contract for 2019, and I don’t see him departing or being traded away. He’s a key player for LAFC, and while it’s certainly always possible to upgrade at any position, I think alongside the likes of Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi, his position ought to be as safe as anyone’s on the squad. After being a consistently good right back, maybe, just maybe, Beitashour has finally found a home at LAFC. And it sure seems like the feeling is mutual.

What do you think? Leave a comment below!