After making 24 starts at right back for LAFC in 2019, Steven Beitashour entered free agency. With nine years in MLS, 247 appearances and Supporters' Shield wins with three different teams under his belt, you would figure someone somewhere in the world would give him a chance to contribute. And they probably would have. But the world seemed completely disinterested in the idea. Beitashour, a member of the Iranian national team, had offers from two countries at the beginning of the year.
"I had some offers overseas in Iran and China, and it's crazy because before those things happened, crazy events that you'd never imagine occurred. So both just kind of ended,” Beitashour said.
COVID-19 had just begun to take hold of China and Iran was recoiling from the death of its most prominent general. Neither felt safe for Beitashour and his family. So he began to look toward joining his fifth MLS team. We know where we are with that.
Clearly the free agency of a professional soccer player is infinitely microscopic in the scheme of all these events, but anyone in a situation where massive global events repeatedly cut in front of them with every move would have to stop and ask for at least a split second: Is it me?
Steven Beitashour lines up a cross during his tenture with LAFC
“You know, I'm not gonna lie it definitely felt that way a bit. But I try to be positive in everything that I've done in my career and in life in general. I'm trying to kind of focus on anything that I can and I'm trying to spend time with my son and my wife and try to look at as a blessing,” Beitashour said. “Typically when you have to work you miss a lot of your child's growth and development when they're younger, because every day, every week they're learning something new. To spend so much time with them is pretty amazing.”
With the world on hold, the question for Beitashour became one of how to stay in shape and how to stay as sharp as possible on the ball until some normalcy returned and a team came calling. This is where being in the league for nine years with multiple teams has its benefits. Initially, anyway.
When the offseason started, Beitashour took pieces of Toronto FC’s and LAFC’s offseason workouts and mashed them together until it became unsafe to go out every day. Now he spends a lot of time on the Peloton. His local gym let him borrow some weights until quarantine ends. He’s taken up yoga for the first time as well. It may not be ideal, but he’s found a way to keep his fitness from the relative safety of his garage.
As far as getting the ball at his feet goes, Steven may not be the Beitashour getting the most touches.
“Right now, essentially I'm just kicking the ball around with my son watching him just dribble, which is honestly the greatest thing,” Beitashour said. “He's 13 months and when we go outside he does dribbles on the street and I just get some touches where I can.”
For all the positives Beitashour has been able to find in isolation, there’s still the same anxiety the rest of us have. He said, of course, that he hopes everyone is staying safe, healthy and taking care of each other. But, like all of us, he’ll be happy when he can get back to soccer.
“I was pretty much in isolation anyway since the season ended. So if anyone's going crazy, it's definitely me,” he said. “I'm ready to get back on the field. And I'm still competitive, so I want to play, I want to win. That's definitely what drives my head.”