Winger gets opportunity with partner club in Germany
San Francisco Glens winger Amir Bashti’s professional soccer journey continues, as he traveled to Germany this week to train with 2. Bundesliga club Holstein Kiel.
“It’s exciting to see Amir get a chance to show what he can do in Germany,” said Glens executive director Mike McNeill. “We want to thank our new partners at Holstein Kiel for giving him an opportunity overseas at such a high level, and we feel like this is just the beginning of what we believe will be a beneficial relationship for both sides.”
Though he must earn his way to a contract offer—much like former Glens defender Aydan Bowers did after a successful trial with Danish pro club FC Helsingor—Holstein has immersed Bashti into the fold almost immediately. The former All-Pac-12 selection from Stanford suited up for the Storks’ Under-23 team against rivals Hamburg.
“We go through video and have a clear understanding of what we’re going to work on in the training session, and once we’re there, everything is very intense and competitive,” said Bashti, who was drafted in the second round by Major League Soccer champion Atlanta United last January but joined the Glens after being unable to agree to a deal. “Playing European football is a great challenge. You really have to give everything. In every single moment, you always have to be focused and concentrating.”
In addition to training, Bashti biked along the Kiellinie, a scenic road along the harbor that is constantly teeming with sailboats. He also strolled down the Holtenauer Strasse, San Francisco’s answer to Union Square.
“Everyone in Kiel has been kind to me and very helpful,” Bashti said. “The club has brought me in and made me feel like a part of the team. I’m very thankful for the experience.“
The trial came about after the clubs entered an official partnership two months ago, aided in part by the sister-city relationship between San Francisco and Kiel, an important port on the northern coast bordering the Baltic Sea. When Holstein CEO Wolfgang Schwenke and club officials came to The City to finalize the agreement in June, they watched Bashti play two games for the Glens’ first team in USL League Two.
The winger’s sojourn abroad is just the latest interaction between Holstein—affectionately known as the Storks—and the Glens during that span.
In late June, the German club’s academy coaches accompanied Schwenke to Beach Chalet to train over 70 Glens youth players from Under-14 through Under-18 level. The purpose was to prepare them for a trip to Spain and the prestigious Donosti Cup, which bore fruit when four Glens teams advanced to the knockout stage of the international tournament. One team, the Under-16s, became the only American club to make their respective final.
Returning the favor, Glens technical director Jimmy Conrad traveled to Kiel two weeks later to visit club officials and their newly renovated Holstein-Stadion, where the Storks’ first team plays their home games in the German second division.
The Glens will also send a handful of youth players to train with the Storks’ academy in the fall. Meanwhile, in San Francisco, there are plans to hold a viewing party for a Holstein Kiel home game in the near future. FOX Sports Match Pass currently carries the American TV and streaming rights for both the Bundesliga first and second division.
In the meantime, Bashti aims to be the fifth player from the Glens’ first team to sign a professional contract in 2019 after having four players drafted to MLS clubs the season before.
Along with Bowers, midfielder Yohannes Harish has signed with American third-division club Oakland Roots SC, while goalkeeper Luke Dennison inked a deal with Longford Town FC in the Irish second division and fellow shot-stopper Andrew Konstantino agreed to terms with the Moroka Swallows in the South African third division.