Just a few hundred spectators risked the cold, windy conditions at the small town of Sauðárkrókur on the north-west coast of Iceland to see Steven Beattie score a magnificent double for Tindastóll against Leiknir Reykjavík earlier this month. Just a year and a half earlier, Dublin-born Beattie had been drafted at #13 in the MLS Supplemental Draft and had a big career ahead of him. However, the Irish striker's chances of a breakthrough were scuppered by Toronto FC, who 'denied him a real chance' at MLS football.
After helping Northern Kentucky University Norse to their first ever NCAA National Championship with 77 career goals and 33 assists, three-time All American Beattie was selected as one of the top 64 college players for the 2011 MLS Combine. The league's rules over foreign players made it difficult for Beattie, and he was overlooked for the 2011 MLS SuperDraft.
However, the Supplemental Draft offered a second chance to Beattie and other players that had missed out. The Dubliner was selected at #13 by Toronto FC, but the move that should have marked the beginning of his career was filled with frustration.
"The day after the draft I got a phone call from someone in player relations telling me I would be going to Turkey with the team for pre-season camp," Beattie told Goal.com."I was buzzing. Three days later I got an email saying the guys that came in the Supplemental Draft aren't going to Turkey, but instead staying in Toronto to train with the academy!
"They took the boys that went in the SuperDraft. I spoke to a lot of other players that got drafted to different clubs and I can safely say Toronto was the only club that treated the boys in the Supplemental Draft like this. I can safely say Toronto denied me of a real chance of playing in the MLS that year.
"I know for a fact other teams were gonna have a look at me, They just drafted me for the sake of it. They could have passed and let a team that was genuinely interested have a shot. Guys that played on my Combine team and guys that got drafted later then me in the Supplemental Draft are starting every week in the MLS, and that's the most frustrating part. They denied me a real chance. If I had a fair shot and got released I'd accept that. But the way it happened was devastating."
Beattie moved to the Puerto Rico Islanders in the North American Soccer League, but picked up a serious injury in his first game. After returning to NKU to complete his studies, the striker moved home to Ireland where he had a trial with Airtricity Premier Division side Dundalk before getting the call from Iceland.
Four goals and five assists in his first nine games for Tindastoll has increased Beattie's profile in Iceland, but the striker is hoping for a return to the USA, where he could face fellow Irishmen Robbie Keane, Darren O'Dea and Andy O'Brien in MLS. "I have a few offers and ideas for next season, so we will know more in the next month or so," Beattie said. "My dream is to get back to the States and play so we will see where that takes me. I will keep training hard and hopefully land somewhere to allow me to further my career.