BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- Nearly two months after a freak injury nearly ended his career and threatened his life, Toronto FC fullback Steven Beitashour returned to the pitch in Saturday night’s 3-1 win over the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park.
“It was exciting,” said Beitashour, who is back after suffering a lacerated pancreas. “I miss the guys, and miss being out there. Coming back and getting a victory is icing on the cake.”
He finished out the match that night as Toronto claimed the tournament title. But a late-night trip to the ER revealed damage that required emergency surgery and a few tenuous days in the hospital.
It was July 11 before he would even make a return to TFC's training center as a visitor, and roughly another month before he was back in full practices.
“He’s such a good guy, he’s such a good pro, he’s such a good teammate,” Toronto captain Michael Bradley said. “He’s been on the field for us on so many big days over the last year and a half, and we’ve missed him in this last stretch.
"Obviously first and foremost we were worried for his health. But once he was able to put the big issues behind him and understand that it was only a matter of time before he could get himself back out on the field, having him back in and around the group is so important. And he’s going to have a huge role to play for us down the stretch.”
Toronto head coach Greg Vanney brought Beitashour in the game in the 77th minute to replace Nicolas Hasler, who scored what stood as the game-winning goal for Toronto.
That move showed Vanney's trust in the Iranian international, as Toronto attempted to close up shop and preserve victory against a pressing and dangerous Chicago side.
“It was great to get him back out there,” Vanney told MLSsoccer.com. “He’s worked incredibly hard to get himself back and he’s an important part of our team. If we need to shut things down on the right side, he’s the guy that gets it done and he’s been doing that for years.
"That’s why I thought it was his moment to get back out on the field. We wanted to shut down a little bit and he gave us that little extra defensive stability on the outside when we were trying to manage that 2-1 result at the time. It’s great to have him back. He’s an important part of our team.”