Atlanta United selected Stanford's Amir Bashti with its pick in the second round of the SuperDraft in January in Chicago. (Stanford)

Bashti: From ‘Dribble, Pass, Shoot’ champion to Atlanta United

Amir Bashti hadn’t interviewed with Atlanta United at the combine. He hadn’t spoke with anyone connected with the team before the MLS SuperDraft in January.

So, when the midfielder was selected by the MLS champs with the 48th pick, he was pleased.

“A wonderful surprise,” he said.

After an outstanding career at Stanford during which he scored 19 goals, was a third-team All-American and won three national championships, Bashti didn’t attend the draft in Chicago. Instead, he stayed home in Cupertino, Calif. and watched the day unfold with three family members. He thought being with his family would make the moment extra special. Plus, if he was drafted, he was going to need as much time as possible to get packed and to his new club.

That Atlanta United was the club made Bashti happy because it was his top choice because of its playing style, coaching, the players and the club’s reputation. He said he watched several of the team’s games in its first two seasons.

“It was a team that beforehand I thought I would love to be a part of it,” he said.

Bashti said he has been playing soccer for as long as he can remember. In 2005, he was the MLS ‘Dribble Pass Shoot’ champion. Though he loves former Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta, his biggest influence may have been his older brother, Malek, who played University of California-San Diego.

“He’s always been a role model for me and a harsh critic who gave me what I needed to hear and continually pushed me to be a better player,” Bashti said.

Through a month of training camp, Bashti seems to be doing well. He has yet to sign an MLS contract, but he is playing consistent minutes with the reserves. He said he is comfortable playing any position in the front six but feels more comfortable as a central midfielder. He has shown a good first touch, works well in tight spaces and doesn’t hold onto the ball too long because he typically knows where his teammates are. Defensively, he positions himself well. He said he is “cerebral” on defense.

He said he is receiving advice from teammates Kevin Kratz, Darlington Nagbe and other senior players about how to transition from college to the pros.

He said the best piece of advice he has received came from assistant coach Orlando Trustfull, who told him to remain comfortable on the ball, take risks and trust his ability.

“I’m always learning, trying to pick their brains and develop as a player, integrate with the team and help any way I can,” he said. “The hard work is coming to fruition being more comfortable out there with the guys and playing at this level. It’s been great.”

Bashti said he would like to push for first-team minutes but will gladly play for Atlanta United 2 if that’s what will help the club.

“I just love being on the field and playing soccer,” he said. “I’ll always be pushing to be the best player I can and hopefully that will push me into the senior team.”

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