It appears as though Steven Beitashour’s time in Toronto is up. The veteran right back has reportedly turned down an offer to return to the 2017 MLS Cup champions. After deciding to test the waters of free agency, Beitashour has opted to sign with expansion side LAFC for their inaugural season.
After a historic season north of the border, the California native and Iran international has decided to leave on a high-note after helping guide Toronto to not only their first MLS Cup appearance in 2016, but following it up with the first domestic club treble in league history in 2017 - the Reds captured the Canadian Championship, Supporters’ Shield, and MLS Cup. In his 2 seasons in Toronto, Beitashour featured in 51 regular season games and 11 playoff games, adding 8 assists in all competitions.
Despite suffering what could have very likely been a season, if not career ending, lacerated pancreas during the Canadian Championship match against the Montreal Impact, Steven made his return to the lineup and was again a mainstay as the first choice fullback in coach Vanney’s desired 3-5-2 formation.
The signing of Beitashour in 2016 reunited him with former defensive partner Justin Morrow and their previous successes in San Jose carried over in spades. Joining a squad that has never been strong defensively, Beitashour’s addition to Toronto solidified the historically weak backline and rounded out a squad that already featured one of the strongest midfield and forward cores in the league.
Steven Beitashour will be the 3rd key Toronto FC player that won MLS Cup who will not be returning in 2018. The Reds lost young Canadian Raheem Edwards in the Expansion draft, and also lost veteran Frenchman Benoit Cheyrou through retirement. A Beitashour cross, finished by a diving Cheyrou header gave TFC fans a moment they will surely never forget in the 2016 Eastern Conference against rivals Montreal to vault them into the Cup final.
His departure will go a long way in freeing up a significant amount of cap space for Toronto FC - Beitashour’s reported guaranteed compensation in 2017 was $264,000. Being one of the deepest squads in MLS, TFC will likely call upon Liechtenstein international Nicolas Hasler to be the first choice replacement at right back. Hasler provides similar defensive abilities as Beitashour, with a goal scoring touch, and at a fraction of the cost. With a sizable amount of cap space and additional targeted allocation money, TFC’s front office have a great opportunity to reinforce their quickly disappearing depth and bolster their roster with more Victor Vazquez-esque quality signings.