Character, consistency and class.
Those three qualities have kept Real Salt Lake defender Tony Beltran among the best right backs in Major League Soccer over the past several years as he has evolved during his eight seasons with RSL.
Now, for the second time in the last three seasons, he is being honored for his contributions with his inclusion in the 2015 AT&T MLS All-Star Game on Wednesday at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado.
“Tony’s quality is obvious. He’s one of the best 1v1 defenders in our league. He’s always in the right spot and always seems to come out on top of his matchups,” Real Salt Lake Technical Director Craig Waibel said. “We’re really happy for him.”
Beltran has been a contributor for RSL since being drafted third overall in the 2008 MLS SuperDraft. However, he has become an ironman over the last four seasons. Since the 2012 season, he has started in 105 of RSL’s 124 MLS matches, giving the club a reliable effort and performance along the way.
That makes the job easier for his coaches and teammates who know just what to expect each time out.
“He’s consistent,” Waibel said. “He’s not the flashiest guy. He’s not running up the line 20 times a game and whipping in 15 crosses. He’s the guy that’s keeping the ball, winning his challenge, winning his battle. He’s rarely the guys who gets exposed. When you’re that character on a soccer field, you’re reliable.”
Off the field, he is also the consummate professional. Whether he is organizing team-building functions, coaching at a youth clinic, participating in one of his many weekly media obligations or just going to dinner with friends, he is a constant display of the public image the club strives for.
It’s no act though. It’s who Tony Beltran is.
And it’s one reason he can be pointed to as a great example to young players coming into the league or new players joining the Real Salt Lake locker room.
“It’s character. It’s the things that he teaches the rest of the locker room and his behavior. It’s the way he treats his body, the way he fuels his body. He’s very focused on that. It’s all around leadership,” Waibel said. “There’s no way to describe an understated, above average player in our league – or in pro sports. It just doesn’t seem to happen. He shows up every day, enjoys doing his job better than other people and generally doesn’t want to be noticed. It’s invaluable to the team and the organization.”
So when Beltran takes the field on Wednesday at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park alongside the likes of Kaka, Sebastian Giovinco, Robbie Keane, David Villa and the other big-name stars that have made their way to MLS over the years, he won’t be the one to garner the greatest applause from the fans. But it’s an honor, nonetheless, that will not be lost on the 27-year-old from Claremont, California.
“It’s a tremendous honor to represent my club, to represent my league in this upcoming match. I’m looking forward to playing alongside a lot of those players. Players that are my peers, yes, but that I admire,” he said. “They’re great players. It should be fun. A good opportunity, but of course I have to thank the coaching staff and my teammates. None of this this is possible without them, without their hard work. The minutes I play will be for them.”