Beitashour a Hometown Hero
Steven Beitashour remembers walking through the cement-laden passageways of Spartan Stadium, watching players navigate the narrow pitch while fans hovered from above with a buzz of excitement.
He was once a member of that mob, leaning over rails and cheering wildly, the whole time wishing he could play on the hallowed grounds shared by stars like Eric Wynalda, John Doyle and Landon Donovan.
Beitashour (pronounced BAY-ta-sure) won't be playing in Spartan anytime soon since the Quakes moved to Buck Shaw Stadium and Donovan is no longer with the franchise. However, the right back is wearing the jersey of a team he passionately supported from the earliest days of Major League Soccer.
"A couple of my friends still hold bitter grudges against Landon Donovan. He was our favorite player before he left," Beitashour said. "I think it would be great to get in a good tackle on him. Nothing dirty, just a good clean, tackle."
Beitashour, a product of Leland High School (San Jose) and San Diego State, slots in somewhere behind Chris Leitch at right back on the depth chart. After signing a developmental contract with the Quakes, the 23-year-old hopes to display the versatility that made him a second-round selection at the 2010 MLS SuperDraft.
"I'm excited to have him. The young guys coming in have a bit to learn about the pro game but the signs are good that he could be a solid player in the MLS," said San Jose head coach Frank Yallop.
Beitashour's strengths include deft footwork and the ability to maneuver through tight spaces. Like Leitch, Beitashour has shown willingness to get forward on attacks with overlapping runs down the sideline. Like any young player, Beitashour will need to adjust to a new level of physicality and a new pace.
Although he might not see many appearances in 2010, Beitashour hopes to make contributions both on and off the pitch. True to his roots, the 23-year-old homegrown talent plans to reach out to a Persian community that is 80,000 strong in the Bay Area.
"Persians love soccer," Beitashour said. "People are calling and emailing my parents saying, 'We love your son and we can't wait to see him play.' I think it's great to have others looking up to me now and being a role model for the community that I grew up in both on and off the field."
If you caught Beitashour enthusiastically signing autographs after the Quakes first home match on Saturday, you know that he is as true-blue as they come, an original throwback from San Jose's MLS experience.