Steven Beitashour isn't sure how he will feel Saturday when the Vancouver Whitecaps play host to the Earthquakes at BC Place.
"It will be a little weird at first," the former San Jose star said Tuesday.
It will be downright strange for a San Jose native who once was an Clash/Earthquakes ballboy. The Quakes traded him to Vancouver this year for allocation money.
Beitashour, 27, stared at San Jose-Leland High, trained with the Quakes and then got drafted 30th overall by his hometown team in 2010. San Jose coaches helped develop the right fullback into a Major League Soccer all star who is on the verge of representing Iran in the World Cup this summer.
For the first time in his five-year career, Beitashour will play against the Earthquakes.
"I would have loved to stay there," he said. "It come down to them not having enough money."
Soccer, after all, is a business and a low-budget team such as San Jose cannot pay premium salaries to everyone as much as management would like. The Quakes tried to re-sign the defender but the two parties could not reach an agreement.
Vancouver signed Beitashour for $177,000, according to information supplied by the MLS Players Union. San Jose signed right fullbacks Brandon Barklage and Andreas Gorlitz for about the same amount of money.
"I understand when they say it is a business," Beitashour said.
As difficult as it was to leave, the defender also enjoys his new environment. He has started all eight games for the Whitecaps (2-2-4).
Beitashour hasn't changed from the plane-talking, hard-working defender San Jose fans came to know. But his role has evolved in Vancouver as a seasoned leader helping younger players progress.
He's a poster boy for succeeding in the professional ranks. Despite going in the second round out of San Diego State, Beitashour worked his way into the Quakes' starting lineup because of his ability to defend one on one as well as dash upfield to help with the attack.
He already has two assists this season, and almost certainly will pass his total of three in 27 games last year in San Jose.
Beitashour hopes the younger players can follow his example.
"It's just a matter if they are willing to improve and get better every day," he said.
"Do you just sit there and watch your shoelaces on the sideline or try to get better?"
Beitashour also tries to get better. He might be on the verge of realizing his dream of playing in the World Cup but the Iranian-American takes nothing for granted.
"Last week, I worried about RSL," he said of playing Real Salt Lake. "This week it's San Jose. I don't get ahead of myself.
"My dad taught me that."
Target forward Steven Lenhart is getting close while recovering from a torn knee ligament. But coach Mark Watson said Tuesday the starter probably won't play during a demanding stretch of three games in eight days, starting Saturday at BC Place.
Barklage also isn't ready after suffering with a number of problems since preseason.
But Watson is comfortable giving his new defender time to get fit with Gorlitz looking good after two consecutive starts. Watson said it might take the German defender five games to get fully comfortable.
"You can tell he is experienced," the coach said. "He's a smooth player. The best is yet to come."
Contact Elliott Almond at 408-920-5865 and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/elliottalmond.