Squad Status: Rotation
Season in a Sentence: Beitashour proved to be a valuable veteran backup as a defensive fullback when the Rapids ran into fitness or suspension concerns at the position in 2022.
The Colorado Rapids probably didn’t expect to include Steven Beitashour in over half of their league matches in 2022. The veteran outside back had just turned 35 and played only 588 minutes when the club topped the Western Conference in 2021. His subsequent off-season contract extension was a move to shore up depth at the back, and boy did the Rapids need it.
Injuries and form drops from Lucas Esteves gave Beitashour plenty of chances early in the season, and Colorado only lost one of the first 12 matches that the veteran featured in during 2022. The club only conceded multiple goals in two of those initial appearances, and the Iranian-American’s no-nonsense play at the back rarely led to significant defensive miscues. Beitashour featured in defense during eight of the club’s nine league clean sheets, and was a starter in six of those games. His poorer road shifts against the Portland Timbers, Philadelphia Union, and Nashville SC were more indicative of team-wide failures than any individual errors.
Robin Fraser regularly utilized Beitashour as a stay-at-home outside back on either side with an attack-first option on the opposite touchline, and the defender played his role well. Beitashour’s style never really offered much in the way of theatrics, but his solid floor provided stability to a back line that ran into problems defending against the league’s most prolific forwards. Beitashour was dispossessed merely 0.14 times per 90 (96th percentile) and only averaged one miscontrolled ball every two matches (94th percentile)—well above the average for MLS fullbacks. As a result, he never committed a mistake that led to a shot from Colorado’s opposition during 2022.
That’s not to say he was faultless: the fullback lagged behind the rest of the league in most major defensive metrics like tackles won (0.62 per 90, 7th percentile), interceptions (1.10 per 90, 36th percentile), and clearances (1.44 per 90, 14th percentile). However, his solid positioning, average passing, and largely error-free play still kept the club’s defense stable in a handful of important fixtures.
Update: After the original version of this article was published, the club re-signed Beitashour to a one year deal with an option for 2024.
Beitashour’s guaranteed earnings of $172,500 in 2022 was a pretty team-friendly contract given the production that he provided the club, but the Rapids declined to trigger the sole option in his deal at the end of the year. The front office has publicly acknowledged that they’re negotiating with Beitashour for his return in 2023, but the free agent could theoretically test the waters elsewhere in the league if neither party comes to an agreement. That said, Beitashour has continued to represent the club in off-season media appearances, so the two sides probably aren’t too far off a deal.
A new salary between the league minimum and $150,000 sounds about right for a reliable veteran that’s inching ever-closer to retirement, but the Rapids would benefit from investing more into the fullback position this off-season. Replacing Esteves with a more consistent option would take some pressure off Beitashour, who’ll likely look stronger with limited minutes next season. Colorado may be able to fall back on the talents of Sebastian Anderson or Jackson Travis in the long-term if either shows significant improvement, but both probably need some more development time before they’re MLS-ready.