Lucky man

Close call for Toronto FC full­back Beitashour af­ter on-field col­li­sion

The Western Star - - Sports - BY NEIL DAVID­SON

Full­back Steven Beitashour dropped into the Toronto FC train­ing cen­tre Tues­day, his first visit since un­der­go­ing surgery for a dam­aged pan­creas.

The time­line for his re­turn is un­cer­tain at this stage. “I don’t think it’s go­ing to be real short, let’s leave it at that,” said coach Greg Van­ney.

What is clear is that Beitashour is a lucky man, given the se­ri­ous­ness of an in­jury usu­ally as­so­ci­ated with car crashes and stab­bings, not soc­cer games.

The 30-year-old de­fender went down hard when Im­pact de­fender Kyle Fisher, com­ing from dis­tance, mist­imed a chal­lenge for the ball and thud­ded into the Toronto player’s mid­sec­tion in first-half stop­page time of the Cana­dian Cham­pi­onship fi­nal June 27.

Fisher was yel­low-carded on the play. Van­ney be­lieves the card should have been red, ar­gu­ing that the same col­li­sion lower or higher on the body would have earned an ejec­tion.

Beitashour fin­ished out the game but felt sick the next morn­ing. He called the team on the way to the train­ing cen­tre and was told to head to the emer­gency room im­me­di­ately.

He was in surgery less than 12 hours later and re­mained in hospi­tal for about a week.

If left un­treated, there would have been se­ri­ous con­se­quences.

“And it’s not a large time win­dow, so it was im­por­tant it be done quickly,” Van­ney said Tues­day fol­low­ing TFC’s first train­ing ses­sions since a 3-1 win July 5 in Or­lando.

Doc­tors found a lac­er­a­tion in the pan­creas, which as a re­sult was ex­cret­ing toxic contents into the body. They had to re­pair the lac­er­a­tion and stop the flow of tox­ins. The pan­creas is a long flat­tened gland lo­cated deep in the ab­domen. It pro­duces en­zymes to help with food di­ges­tion and reg­u­lates blood sugar.

For a team that has al­ready had to deal this sea­son with an ir­reg­u­lar heart­beat (de­fender Drew Moor), it was an­other un­ex­pected and un­usual health concern. “My un­der­stand­ing in talk­ing to Beta is the physi­cians have never ac­tu­ally heard of it in soc­cer,” said Van­ney. “They usu­ally are car ac­ci­dents or a stab­bing or some­thing like that, that it tends to get to the pan­creas. But not an ac­tual soc­cer in­jury or sports in­jury.”

Team­mates were happy to see Beitashour in per­son Tues­day.

“To see him in the good spir­its that he was in, the op­ti­mism he had for what was next and what’s to come, was good,” said de­fender Eriq Zavaleta. “It’s def­i­nitely some­thing se­ri­ous, it’s def­i­nitely some­thing that you don’t wish upon any­one ... To see him back around the group was im­por­tant for us and prob­a­bly very im­por­tant for him.”

Beitashour, a Cal­i­for­nia na­tive who plays in­ter­na­tion­ally for Iran where is par­ents were born, has been ever-present at right full­back/wing­back since join­ing Toronto from Van­cou­ver prior to the 2016 sea­son.

The eight-year veteran is a low-main­te­nance pro­fes­sional who, along with fel­low wing­back Justin Mor­row, has helped make Toronto’s 3-5-2 for­ma­tion a suc­cess.

Rookie Oyvind Alseth started the last two games in Beitashour’s place, gar­ner­ing gen­er­ally pos­i­tive re­views in his MLS de­but.

With the trans­fer win­dow open again, Toronto has brought in Brazil­ian un­der-20 full­back Raul on trial.

Given Beitashour’s in­jury, Van­ney calls the right full­back spot “a po­si­tion of in­ter­est in terms of get­ting us some depth.”

“He plays the po­si­tion and he plays it how we like,” he added. “He’s got an at­tack­ing-minded men­tal­ity, how­ever he un­der­stands his de­fen­sive re­spon­si­bil­ity.

Toronto (11-3-5) is off un­til July 19 when it vis­its New York City FC (10-6-3).


Toronto FC Toronto FC Steven Beitashour, left, kicks the ball against New York City FC Stiven Mendoza dur­ing the first half of MLS soc­cer ac­tion in Toronto in May 2016.

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