VANCOUVER, B.C. – Replacing Lee Young-Pyo at right fullback was never going to be an easy task, but in acquiring onetime MLS All-Star Steven Beitashour on Monday, the Vancouver Whitecaps hope they have their man.
“I think Steven's a fantastic signing, I really do,” Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson told reporters at the University of British Columbia on Monday, following the team's first public day of preseason. “Arguably, he's the best right back in the league, in my opinion. I remember when I played against him, he was very difficult, because he kept bombing forward at every opportunity.
“The way I'm going to play, my fullbacks are going to attack. They're going to get forward and get balls into the box. He fits that profile that I want perfectly. He's got MLS experience and he's a grounded kid as well, and I think it's important that we have character guys in this locker room, in this team, and he's certainly one of them.”
Beitashour joins Vancouver from the San Jose Earthquakes, where he's played since 2010, figuring 87 times – the 'Caps shipped allocation money to their Western Conference rivals in exchange for the California-born Iranian international.
His 16 assists over the last three seasons is the highest total among MLS defenders over that time frame.
“Great signing for us,” Jay DeMerit told reporters on Monday. “Right back was a position we needed, so for him to fill that role is great for us. It solidifies our backline, which we'll need to continue to work through. He's a guy that has a lot of energy, both going forward and tracking back. He's a good 1-v-1 defender.
“Any time you get a proven guy in this league that can add to your squad, that's a good thing.”
Beitashour was set to arrive in Vancouver on Monday afternoon, and will link up with the 'Caps for his first training session on Tuesday.
On Monday, the Whitecaps also announced Martyn Pert as Robinson's assistant coach. The Englishman has previously been an assistant with Cardiff City and Coventry City, as well as the Bahrain national team.
Beyond his relationship with Robinson, who he met at a coaching conference last year, Pert also knows DeMerit from his time working at Watford.
Vancouver's busy day also included the signing of midfielder Mehdi Ballouchy, whose rights the club acquired on December 18. The midfielder is currently recovering from a torn ACL in his right knee following surgery in August, and is not yet ready to return to training.
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.