After being drafted 13th in the Major League Soccer Supplemental Draft by Toronto FC, 22-year old Dubliner Steven Beattie unfortunately was not offered a contract for the upcoming MLS season. However, he has since gone on trial with US second-tier side Puerto Rico Islanders.
Former Skerries Town youth forward Beattie was a sensation at collegiate level, scoring 77 goals in 4 years for North Kentucky University Norse. Many considered Beattie one of the “steals” of the draft, but because he would count towards the MLS’s international player limit, the player was not offered a full-time contract. However, he was not without a club for long, and earlier this week was invited to the pre-season training camp for Puerto Rico Islanders.
Puerto Rico Islanders were formed in 2003, and played in the USL First Division (now the USL Professional League, the third North American tier). However, this year marks the inaugural season of the North American Soccer League (NASL), and the Islanders’ debut in the new second tier.
The Islanders have already offered contracts to sixteen players, while a further thirteen have been invited to camp. Beattie began training with the Islanders yesterday in 28°C (82°F) heat in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. The free-scoring forward’s chances of a permanent deal could be promising, particularly as their head coach is former Northern Irish international striker Colin Clarke. Clarke is also manager of the Puerto Rico national side, where he is called “the General.”
A breakout year in the NASL could well see Beattie returning to the MLS, where due to league and draft rules, Toronto still hold the player’s rights.