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updated: 1/12/2017 6:19 PM

Schaumburg's Beard finds a home with Chicago Mustangs

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  • Photo courtesy Chicago Mustangs/Daniel BartelSchaumburg native Ephraim Beard helps anchor the defense for the Chicago Mustangs of the Major Arena Soccer League. The Mustangs host Milwaukee on Saturday night at Sears Centre Arena.

    Photo courtesy Chicago Mustangs/Daniel BartelSchaumburg native Ephraim Beard helps anchor the defense for the Chicago Mustangs of the Major Arena Soccer League. The Mustangs host Milwaukee on Saturday night at Sears Centre Arena.

 
By Hunter Tickel
chicagomustangspro.com

He grew up in the suburbs, but everything about Ephraim "Easy" Beard screams Windy City, which is fitting for a player that dons a jersey resembling the Chicago flag with four red stars, light-blue trim and white.

"What is special about Beard is his skill set combined with his Chicago background," said Chicago Mustangs coach Armando Gamboa said. "He shows the local kid the dedication and technical skill it takes to become a pro."

From starring at Schaumburg High School, to suiting up for two professional indoor soccer teams in Chicago, to bartending for one of the best-known soccer pubs in the city, the Globe, Beard is a huge part of the Chicago soccer scene.

"My home is here, my friends are here," Beard said. "I like representing Chicago. I like playing with guys that I know. Part of me feels like I'm representing Chicago soccer. You will see me playing with Chicago teams in the offseason."

You also can find the homegrown product passing along his soccer knowledge to the community. In the fall and spring he is the assistant coach for Francis W. Parker High School boys and girls programs.

The former Schaumburg Saxon star began his indoor career with the Chicago Soul FC in 2012. With that team, which was a franchise for one year, Beard scored 6 goals, and had 2 assists in 27 games.

After a year away from the game, Beard joined the Seattle Impact, which is known now as the Tacoma Stars. He was invited to the team by Stevenson alum and current Cedar Rapids forward Gordy Gurson, but didn't make the move until the team flew him out. In eight games, he had 5 goals and 2 assists.

"Their team folded, but fortunate for me coach Armando had heard of me," Beard said. "They invited me out for training and signed me right away. After a couple days I was playing in a game."

Beard signed his homecoming with the Mustangs on Jan. 30, 2015. His contributions have grown each year, now in his third season with the Mustangs, who play their home games at Sears Centre Arena. He scored a goal in five appearances in 2015 and had a goal in 15 games in 2015-16. This season, he has played in all nine games and has notched 3 goals and 4 assists.

"My first year here, I had to come in and fill a role. It was crunchtime, it was difficult getting acclimated," Beard said. "I have gotten a chance to grow with the team and players. I feel more comfortable playing indoor soccer. Soccer has a lot to do with confidence."

He has shown that swagger this year, as a steady presence on the backline. The 27-year-old also triggered an epic four-goal comeback against Syracuse, Dec. 18 with a goal and an assist, 36 seconds into the fourth quarter.

His mantra, and ability to make difficult plays look second nature, reflects a different kind of self-belief that has earned him the nickname "Easy".

"I've always had a pretty laid-back persona," Beard said. "It started in college. My college coach called me "Easy," and then I thought it kind of wasn't cool anymore. It's the way I play soccer. Sometimes it might even look a little casual the way I play out there. I think I have confidence in my touch."

He'll put it to the test on Saturday when the Mustangs (6-3) open a three-game homestand and play a Central Division rival, the Milwaukee Wave (6-5), in a 7:05 p.m. MASL contest. Tickets, starting at $10, are available at chicagomustangspro.com or at the box office.

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