Toronto FC: Steven Beitashour frustrated after leaving Reds

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 21: Steven Beitashour
COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 21: Steven Beitashour /

In an interview with The Athletic, Steven Beitashour admits he is upset about leaving the family atmosphere at Toronto FC.

You would think a professional athlete moving closer to home and getting a pay rise would be happy. However, that’s not entirely the case when it comes to former Toronto FC defender Steven Beitashour.

In fact, Beitashour is both frustrated and insulted by how matters played out in Southern Ontario. His feelings became clear during an interview with Joshua Kloke of The Athletic.

If the 30-year-old had his way, he would still be with a team which he essentially described as a second family. As per Kloke’s excellent article, he said:

"“It is frustrating, because I felt like we had a true family bond on that team and guys were always putting in the work, always competing every weekend so I’m going to miss that aspect of it. It’s tough leaving the best team in league history.”"

However, issues arose when it came time to renegotiating a new contract with Toronto FC. The Reds made an offer, but it would have involved Beitashour accepting a pay cut on the $264,000 (US) he earned last season.

Now, if playing for TFC meant that much, some might argue the San José, California native should have been more willing to compromise on his pay. (More on that later.) However, apart from the fact this wouldn’t have made much business sense, it came down to a matter of principle.

More specifically, Beitashour seemed to be the only one of the regular starters being asked to make such a sacrifice. Again speaking to Kloke, he said:

"“I don’t know if you can justify anyone on our team to take a pay cut that’s a regular starter. Especially when guys are getting pretty big pay raises, so if everyone’s getting pay increases and your (contract) is the only one not, there’s something fishy about it.”"

In terms of being a regular starter, Beitashour is absolutely right. He played in 56 of 68 regular season games and started all 11 playoff fixtures during his two years in Toronto.

However, the finances of the salary cap and other player deals meant something had to give. And that something was the defender’s contract, with him having the sixth-highest salary on the team in 2017.

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As Sportsnet‘s Jon Molinaro explained recently, other players were getting more money as a result of championship bonuses in their pay. Also, while TFC would have spent Targeted Allocation Money to pay down Beitashour’s cap hit, league rules meant the team couldn’t do it for a player in his salary range.

Unfortunately for all concerned, Toronto FC were left with a situation where a player felt he was being singled out, which was understandable regardless of the reality. As a result, Beitashour turned down the new contact offer and signed a more lucrative deal with expansion side Los Angeles FC.

Ultimately, what really upset the right back most, was the feeling no one else was prepared to make a similar sacrifice of a pay cut, in order to keep everyone together. As per Kloke, he said:

"“If I knew guys were strapped up for money and multiple guys were like ‘Hey we’re just making the same amount, we’re not getting any increase or maybe we’re taking a little bit of a cut, and we’re all in it together,”’ I would’ve said, “Hell yeah, I’m in it together too.’ But when you’re the only one singled out, it’s a little tough to swallow and it hurts a little bit.”"

Next: 3 predictions for TFC in 2018

What’s your take on what Beitashour had to say? Further, what is your view of his time with Toronto FC? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.