Tony Beltran announced his retirement from professional soccer this morning through a letter on RSL.com.
The 31 year old right back served all 12 years of his professional career at Real Salt Lake. Beltran’s time at RSL began in 2008 when the team picked him in the first round (3rd overall) of the 2008 MLS SuperDraft. He had 15 appearances for RSL in his first season, and was a regular in the starting XI for the vast majority of his time with Real. Beltran also had three caps for the US Men’s National Team in 2012 and 2013 under Jurgen Klinsmann.
Beltran notched a total of 12 assists in MLS play, but registered just one goal in the league. It was a glorious goal, and one that was easy to celebrate as goals from defenders, especially defenders as beloved by the fanbase as Beltran, are rare. He joked the goal brought an end to “the most pathetic streak in MLS”. His contribution to RSL’s play should be remembered for his incredible defensive work, and moments like the video below give a taste of what he brought on the field:
During a match between Real Salt Lake and the Colorado Rapids on Oct. 15, 2017, a terrible challenge meant Beltran was subbed out. It wasn’t apparent until later that a multi-ligament reconstruction would be required to repair the damage done to his knee. After a year of recover Beltran was close to coming back and even made the 18 on a number of games, but never saw minutes with RSL again. He reinjured his knee in training before finally retiring.
Tony Beltran brought a lot of qualities to the team that aren’t immediately evident. He seems to have been a leader off the field, and willing to take young guys under his wing. He and Glad have joked about how much Tony helped Justen to develop better eating habits. Beltran also hosted a podcast, titled I’ll Be Right Back, a nod to his long-term injury and hopes to make it back on the field. He also hosted book clubs and is active in community.
It’s hard to sum up the career of such an incredible player as Tony Beltran. He is both loved by RSL fans and terribly underrated. I only had a few interactions with him in person, but he was always warm and seemed just as interested in hearing about me as I was about him (which is very rare when speaking to professional athletes who are interviewed regularly). It’s unclear what comes next for Beltran, but he’s a highly gifted man who has lots of options ahead of him.
Thank you for all you’ve done for this team and this city, Tony. We’ll miss watching you play.