Toronto FC’s clean sheet over DC United was enough for Steven Beitashour to earn a spot in the MLS Team of the Week.
While it wasn’t pretty at times, Toronto FC got the job done and earned a hard-fought victory against DC United over the weekend. And while Toronto has only earned two wins so far this season, what can be said about them is that they are a lot more sound defensively. Both of TFC’s wins have been clean sheets, and the most goals they have allowed in a game is 2 – which only happened against NYCFC. Both of their losses were closely contested, with Toronto hanging on until the final whistle and Clint Irwin pulling out all the stops to keep his team in it.
If anyone along the backline has remained consistent so far, it has been Steven Beitashour. He has played every minute of every game so far, and has been matched up against some of the best players in the MLS so far in Graham Zusi, Diego Fagundez, and Lamar Neagle. He was critical to holding TFC’s one-goal lead over the course of 89 minutes, and by the end of the game he racked up five clearances, four interceptions, and two tackles.
It was a gritty performance by the right-back and it earned him a spot in the MLS Team of the Week, which can be seen in full right here:
Their decision to go with a 3-4-3 and place Beitashour as a center back is a bit unconventional. But perhaps the MLS believes in his ability so much so that they feel comfortable slotting him in the centre of the park and have him play just as good.
Clint Irwin was on the bench, and while he was also key to Toronto’s win on Saturday, making three saves for the clean sheet, it wasn’t enough to beat out Nick Rimando who also earned a clean sheet while making one more save. In seasons past, you could hardly say that any defensive player for Toronto deserved this achievement so it must be said that the improvements made at the back have been significant so far.
Heading into next week, however, Toronto FC will have a very difficult opponent in the Montreal Impact, and seeing both Nacho Piatti and Laurent Ciman included in the TOTW is a cause for concern. Montreal’s defense has been just as good as Toronto’s and Ciman is very much at the heart of it, while Piatti scored one of the best goals of this young season so far in stoppage time. Add the fact that Didier Drogba is back in the lineup and they look like one of the strongest teams in the Eastern Conference this season. However, TFC has shown up to every game this season with maximum effort, and that’s not going to change for an opponent that they have a deep rooted hatred for.
Sebastian Giovinco is still very much the heartbeat of this team, but to see him get defensive support this year has been great. Nothing summed up Toronto’s deficiencies last season better than when a Giovinco hattrick went up in smoke against New York City because nobody knew how to make a tackle. To see such a drastic improvement in such a short period of time is a sign of great things to come.