San Jose Earthquakes defender Steven Beitashour appears to be establishing himself rather quickly with the Iranian national team. In just his second appearance, the right back started, went the full 90 minutes and had an assist as Iran defeated Thailand, 3-0, in an Asian Cup qualifier on Friday.
Born in San Jose to Iranian parents, the 26-year-old fullback was on U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s radar but remained uncapped. Team Melli coach Carlos Queiroz invited Beitashour to Tehran last month for a qualifier that would have tied him permanently to Iran.
“I’ve wanted to play in a World Cup since I was a little kid,” Beitashour told SI.com at the time. “This is a great opportunity coming up and I hope I can make the most of it.”
He has. Beitashour made his international debut in Iran’s 2-1 defeat of Thailand on Oct. 15 and then earned a place in Queiroz’ starting 11 for Friday's return match in Bangkok. Iran took the lead on a 28th-minute goal from Fulham’s Ashkan Dejagah. In the 42nd, a rather lengthy stretch of Iranian pressure ended when Beitashour delivered a smart, one-touch pass to Reza Ghoochannejhad. The Standard Liège forward finished from 12 yards.
Highlights of the match are below:
Iran already has qualified for the World Cup and now is practically assured of a spot in the 2015 Asian Cup. Team Melli leads its four-team group at 3-0-1. The top two finishers will advance. Beitashour and Iran will visit Lebanon on Tuesday.