SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Officially speaking, Steven Beitashour hasn’t missed a league match for the San Jose Earthquakes since making his season debut on April 21.
Yet it’s only been in the last few weeks that Beitashour has once again felt like the right back who delivered 13 assists over the past two years. That’s how long it took the 26-year-old to fully recover from a sports hernia that required two offseason surgeries to repair.
“I feel 100 percent now, that’s the main thing,” Beitashour said after volleying a looping ball to Chris Wondolowski for the only goal in the Quakes’ 1-0 victory against Sporting Kansas City on Sunday. “You get opened up in one spot twice, there’s a lot of scar tissue. I did a lot of work with the physical therapist here. I did a lot of work with the trainers, a lot of work on my own, just trying to get all that scar tissue gone.”
Beitashour made like a shortstop taking charge of a pop-up before delivering a lunging volley off a deflected ball originally sent goalwards by Sam Cronin. The pass dipped down right on top of Sporting’s penalty spot, where Wondolowski met it with a smart header, using Kansas City goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen’s momentum against him and tucking the ball inside the near post.
“I don’t know who was in front of me ... but I definitely called them off,” Beitashour said of teammate Rafael Baca. “I said, ‘I got it, I got it.’ It sat up perfectly and I just tried to put it in the mixer.”
After notching just one assist through his first 15 MLS games of 2013, Beitashour has two in his last three, including Sunday’s effort. Beitashour said he finally started to feel like his true on-field self four games ago, which coincides with his statistical resurgence.
“When you’ve been off for five months, you don’t train for two weeks and you’re 100 percent match fit,” Quakes interim coach Mark Watson said. “It takes a couple of months sometimes. I think [Beitashour] is getting progressively better every week. He’s getting fitter, he’s getting stronger and his performances have been good of late.”
San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch said he could see Beitashour’s resurgence as it unfolded in front of him.
“I’ve been there, after surgeries, and it’s tough,” Busch said. “It’s tough physically, it’s tough mentally and you just have to work your way back in, day in and day out and do all the hard work. And he’s done it. And now you’re seeing the rewards for the team from it. He serves a great ball in there for Wondo tonight, and we get our goal.
"He’s worked his tail off, so he deserves that assist. It’s great to see him back to being his best.”