[MLS 2014 COUNTDOWN] Iran World Cup hopeful Steven Beitashour, who led all MLS defenders with 16 assists over the last three seasons, has joined the Vancouver Whitecaps, who sent allocation money to the San Jose Earthquakes to secure his rights.
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Beitashour, who debuted for Iran in 2013, grew up in San Jose and played at San Jose State before joining the Quakes in 2010. He emerged as one of the best right backs in MLS and looked to move abroad on a free transfer before moving to the 'Caps, for whom he'll replace retired Korean international Lee Young-Pyo.
“Steven is arguably the best right back in the league,” said Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson. “He is fantastic on the defensive side of the ball and his ability to join the attack will make him a great addition to our club.”
Beitashour, who will turn 27 on Saturday, was picked for two U.S. national team camps by Coach Jurgen Klinsmann but never was capped. He played for Iran in Asian Cup qualifying last fall following its qualification for the 2014 World Cup.
The Iran coaching staff includes a pair of Americans, Dan Gaspar andOmid Namazi, who followed him for several years.
WORTH READING ... Joe Cannontalked with the Vancouver Sun's Bruce Constantineau about leaving the 'Caps, which might signal the end of his playing career.
“We’ve had some bites," he said, "but the reality is there isn’t a strong market for a 39-year-old goalie that didn’t play too much last year.”
Cannon, who played only 10 games in 2013 and lost the No. 1 job to Dane David Ousted, will return to California with his wife and young son. He spoke highly of the 'Caps organization and the city of Vancouver.
“I know this is hockey country but I really do think there’s the potential for Vancouver to be a soccer town and if there’s one thing that will lead this team to do something special, it’s our fans.”
SILVESTRE WILL STAY IN OREGON.Defender Mikael Silvestre won't be playing for Portland in 2014 as the former French international reached an agreement with the Timbers to terminate his contract, but he says he isn't going anywhere.
“I loved my time with the Timbers,” said Silvestre, whose lone season was cut short after eight games because of a knee injury. “My family and I have enjoyed our time in Oregon and we plan to stay here for the foreseeable future. I am excited to stay and seek other opportunities. The fans here have created one of the strongest fan bases I have seen in my career. I would like to thank them for their undying support, they have made my experience here unforgettable. For the Timbers, the squad has momentum after a strong finish last year and I wish them the best for the coming season.”>
ECKERSLEY TO RED BULLS.The New York Red Bulls acquired 24-year-old right back Richard Eckersley from Toronto FC in exchange for New York’s natural 2017 SuperDraft fourth-round pick. He played 72 games over the last three seasons for Toronto after arriving from Burnley.
Eckersley will provide competition for Kosuke Kimuraat right back, though he can play elsewhere on the backline. Sources told Empire of Soccer that Eckersley arrives at a bargain-basement salary because Toronto will pay the bulk of the salary described as "DP money."
“We were impressed with Richard’s play at Toronto FC and are delighted to acquire him. He has a good soccer brain and is an energetic defender who can also provide positive attacking qualities on the flanks,” said Red Bulls sporting director Andy Roxburgh. “Richard will immediately provide another solid and versatile option for us on our backline and will certainly compete for a starting role on our team.”
-- Robert Earnshaw, Toronto FC's top scorer in 2013 with eight goals in 23 games, is leaving. He hoped to return in 2014, but the signing Jermain Defoeand Gilberto to Designated Player contracts has reshaped the TFC frontline picture, to say the least.
SPREE ON USL PRO DEFENDERS.Chivas USA signed its second and third defenders from USL PRO, acquiring 23-year-old defender Fejiro Okiomah from the Charlotte Eagles, the 2013 runners-up, and 21-year-old Donald Toia from Phoenix FC. The Harrisburg City Islanders had sent defender Andrew Ribeiro to the Rojiblancos last week.