Tony Beltran's staying at Real Salt Lake — at least for a while, because he recently signed a contract extension.
That's the latest from RSL beat writer Chris Kamrani in a feature he wrote on Beltran, which you should probably go read. Beltran, turning 28 in October, is also one of RSL's veteran corps — he's been here almost as long as the likes of Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales, and Nick Rimando.
The extension is particularly significant because once he turns 28, he'll have access to free agency. Frankly, we're glad he didn't take that route.
Beltran has been a reliable figure in stormy waters for Real Salt Lake, but at right back, he's turned a defensive position into a combinatory mastermind. His interactions with Javier Morales for several years and Luis Silva last week speak volumes to his understanding as a player.
The best part is that Beltran's only now going to be coming into his prime. While he was a very good right back in years past, expect him to get even better — the trajectory set out by people much smarter than me (i.e., Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski in Soccernomics) puts him in a very strong position moving forward.
Beltran is going to soon be at the peak of his career, and while it's not a lock that he'll continue improving, he has exactly the right mentality and intelligence to do so. And that's the thing that I think is lost on some — while he's not the biggest defender, and he's not going to make up for the mistakes of center backs (expecting that out of a modern full back is off a bit anyway), he is going to read the game extremely well, and he'll be an even-keel, level-headed player in the locker room.
It's important to have those fiery, up-in-arms players — but it's also important to have steady, reliable guys, too. That's doubly true when the team is constantly being ripped from stern to stern by expansion drafts, a strict salary cap, and other MLS mechanisms.