Tag Archives: Player Spotlight

Player Spotlight: Steve Clark turns Providence Park into House of Horrors

Official Sporting KC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Sitting above the playoffs line in seventh place with 43 points, the Portland Timbers continue the battle of the west. Despite falling to D.C. United this past weekend; Steve Clark is turning Providence Park into the House of Horrors.

Timbers’ veteran goalkeeper Jeff Attinella was sidelined due to a season-ending injury this July. And Clark has stepped up in a big by posting 1710 minutes, five shutouts, 66 saves, and currently holds a 79.5% save percentage, thus far.

Prior to assuming starting goalkeeper duties, Clark was included in the starting lineup for five of fifteen league matches and appeared in the 2019 campaign of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

The Mason, Michigan native is no stranger to the shuffle. On August 17, 2018, the five-year MLS veteran was waived by D.C. United while in the midst of his second season with the club. Following the Timbers’ announcement that they had picked up the veteran keeper on waivers – he went on to start eight games for the 2018 campaign.

His quick reflexes have kept the Timbers out of dangerous situations. And Clark is having a little fun with it – occasionally wearing a Michael Myers mask from the classic slasher franchise Halloween; during the Timbers’ traditional slab celebration ceremony to celebrate shutout.

“Providence Park is going to be a house of horrors this summer,” Clark said during the July 28 postgame conference. “It’s going to be a tough place to come. That’s kind of what I’m saying. This is a bunch of monsters out here.”

Fellow teammate Sebastian Blanco is joining in the fun donning a Chucky mask from cult classic Child’s Play. The Argentinian midfielder began the tradition in May of 2018 to celebrate his game-winning goal against the Seattle Sounders.

Outside of the MLS, Clark has played for Hønefoss BK and AC Horsens, respectively – crediting these experiences for his development as a player, even encouraging players to “move abroad and challenge themselves.”

With playoffs starting in a few weeks, its hard to ignore that Clark was once a three-year starter for Columbus Crew SC from 2014-16, where the 33-year-old keeper ironically played against his current club during the 2015 MLS Cup; losing 2-1. Fast forward to now, Steve said of his time in Columbus:

“My time in Columbus was a long time ago now. But it was a good time for me as player. Now being with the Timbers – life has really come full circle and I’m really enjoying myself now. Portland is a beautiful place to live and a great club to play for.”

The Timbers will continue their search for the final playoff push in a midweek fixture when they host the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday, September 18.

Featured Image:  Portland Timbers

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Player Spotlight: Steven Beitashour blends sport and culture in Los Angeles

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Once a ball boy for the San Jose Earthquakes, LAFC’s defender Steven Beitashour is thankful to now be a part of a club in his home state that continuously supports him not only as a player, but also supports his connection to his Iranian heritage.

The San Jose native dreamed of becoming a soccer player after his father – a former San Francisco State University player – introduced him to the game and took him to his first practice at four years old.

Beitashour, born to Iranian parents, is an Iranian international and strongly identifies with his heritage. While there have been a handful of Iranian players in MLS over the history of the league, Beitashour has had the longest and most successful career to date, winning the MLS Cup with Toronto FC in 2017, and the Supporters’ Shield with San Jose in 2012. Additionally, he played in the 2014 World Cup with the Iranian National Football Team and made an appearance at the 2012 MLS All-Stars.

In 2010, Beitashour received the opportunity to play for his childhood team – after the Quakes selected him in the second round of the 2010 MLS SuperDraft. His family supported him fully by attending all his games.

He would go on to spend three years with the Quakes before being traded to the Vancouver Whitecaps in 2014. Following a short stint in British Columbia, Steven was then traded to Toronto FC in 2015 for two years, before having the chance to return to his home state as a free agent.

“LAFC seemed the best fit as far as the coach. I think Bob Bradley is one of the best coaches, in not only the U.S., but the world. LAFC had a lot of promise by how they were creating this club with the stadium, the fans, the name, the logo, etc., it seemed they were doing it right. Being from California, I had a lot of other offers, so it wasn’t an easy decision. But it made the decision a little easier.”

On January 24, 2018, the 32-year-old defender signed with the Los Angeles Football Club. Beitashour hit two major career milestones during his first year with the expansion club:

  • Beitashour made his 200th start in the 2-0 win against the Columbus Crew SC on June 23rd, becoming the 100th MLS player in league history to reach the mark. 
  • Beitashour also started in all 30 of his MLS Regular Season appearances, his sixth season surpassing the 2000 minute mark. 

Since then, Beitashour has been fortunate to find a club that not only supports him as a player but highly respects his Iranian heritage.

“[There’s] a huge soccer culture in the Iranian culture. If you ask them, ‘what is your favorite sport?’ I think 99% of them would say soccer. […] So the fact that you can bring awareness that there is an Iranian-American player playing in the MLS – in their own backyard. I think a lot of them stick well to it and are LAFC fans.”

There is a significant population of Iranians and Iranian-Americans in and around Los Angeles, with some estimates stating there are between 300,000 and half a million people of Iranian heritage residing in the greater Los Angeles area. It is considered to be the largest group of Iranians outside of Iran in the world.

“There are a lot of young kids that are in a similar position where they’re Iranian-American – they want to play for the MLS, they want to play for the Iranian National Team and they look at my story for hope and belief.”

LAFC have been groundbreakers in cultural acceptance by recognizing and respecting each player’s background. Omar Gaber, former defender and Egyptian native kicked off the tradition last year of having the first player t-shirt in Arabic before departing the club in July of 2018.

Last October, the LAFC released the first Farsi t-shirt in MLS history; a shirt in black-and-gold, that reads: ‘Los Angeles Football Club’ to show solidarity with the defender.

“I think they’re taking advantage of the fact that’s there so many Iranians, Persians, in the greater Los Angeles area. And the fact they support me in that way, and they show that they support all their players. Not just me. [It] really speaks volumes of the club and how they’re doing things,” Beitashour continues. “LA has a lot of different cultures [and] ethnicities here. Soccer is the world game. So anytime you can get into those areas; it’s really smart and beneficial for both the club and the player.”

In addition to having personalized player apparel added to LAFC HQ’s cultural collection, alongside Lee Nguyen’s player tee in Vietnamese, Beitashour had the opportunity to share his culture through food on an episode of “Taste of LAFC” hosted by Max Bretos. He took LAFC’s play-by-play announcer to Shamshiri Grill just outside of Westwood to enjoy a traditional Persian meal while discussing his experiences with the club.

Off the field, the new father balances spending time with his family, filming his “Beita Time” series on LAFC’s youtube channel, and recording episodes of the ‘Back-To-Back’ podcast with fellow teammate Jordan Harvey.

LAFC continues to be a trailblazer in MLS by displaying player support on both personal and athletic levels. And Steven Beitashour is proof of that.

Featured Image:  Daisy Jimenez

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