After missing out in 2010, Bedoya poised to make World Cup dream come true

Alejandro Bedoya

photo by David Bernal/ISIphotos.com

By FRANCO PANIZO

NEW YORK – Four years ago, Alejandro Bedoya was training with the U.S. Men’s National Team during its pre-World Cup camp before he was made one of the final seven cuts from the provisional 30-man roster.

Bedoya felt the natural pain and disappointment that comes with such a decision, but he used those feelings and the knowledge that he could compete at such a high level as the fuel to the fire that now has him on the brink of playing in his first World Cup.

Coming off a strong season with Ligue 1 club Nantes, Bedoya is closing in on fulfilling his dream of playing in a World Cup just four years after narrowly missing out on the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. The 27-year-old midfielder is a projected starter for the U.S. and that should come as no surprise to those who have seen how much his confidence has grown during this World Cup cycle.

Bedoya, himself, is even acutely aware of how much he has changed since enduring that unpleasant moment at the U.S. team hotel four summers ago.

“This turnaround has been a lot different,” said Bedoya on Friday as the U.S. did its media rounds in and around Times Square. “Four year changes a lot. I’ve had an up-and-down career, but I knew that by working hard I could get myself back in this position.

“I played myself into this position and confidence as a footballer, athlete is so big and I have so much more of that and I’ve improved as a player playing in Ligue 1 for Nantes. It’s such a physical, fast-paced league, and it’s a tough league to play in. I’m playing against some of the best players in some big clubs and that has helped me a lot.”

Playing consistently at such a vital time in a World Cup cycle has indeed helped Bedoya raise his confidence, but receiving a steady dose of minutes was not a luxury Bedoya had throughout the past four years. The veteran and versatile midfielder made the jump to Scottish powerhouse Rangers from Swedish outfit Orebro SK in August 2011, and it turned out to be a regrettable move.

Bedoya sustained a number of niggling injuries that prevented him from seeing the field much in his only year with the club and that wound up costing him his place on the U.S. roster. It also left the midfielder with a big decision to make.

Knowing he needed to be playing consistently in order to garner the attention of new U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, Bedoya took a step back and returned to Sweden by signing a short-term deal with Helsingborgs IF. Things went so well for him during his initial six-month stay that he agreed to another half-a-season deal with the club, which helped earn him a U.S. call-up at the 2013 Gold Cup and the deal with Nantes.

“Alejandro Bedoya made a huge step forward from the last two years,” said Klinsmann on Friday, “especially the last year where he broke through in the French league – a very strong French league – where he played many good games against the big names, Olympique Marseille or especially Paris Saint-Germain.”

All that is not to say that is was completely smooth sailing for Bedoya at Nantes. The Englewood, New Jersey, native went through a rough patch in which he did not see much time at the beginning of 2014, but he fought through those difficult moments knowing that the World Cup was around the corner.

Now, a much more confident Bedoya is primed to play a role in the World Cup this summer as the U.S. attempts to navigate its way out of a difficult Group G that includes Ghana, Portugal and Germany. His two-way, blue-collared style of play may not draw many eyeballs or fanfare, but it is an asset that Bedoya’s American teammates and Klinsmann value highly.

“He has a great engine on both sides of the ball, whether he’s getting forward or getting in good positions defensively to help the team,” said U.S. captain Clint Dempsey, who added that Bedoya is a good person to have in the locker room. “He’s a really unselfish player, he really gives everything he has for the team and that’s what matters most to him. But he’s also a player that has an eye for goal and gets in good spots as well to get crosses and get assists.

“I think he’s a player that’s dangerous, difficult to deal with because he’s nonstop the whole game, his fitness level is really high and I think he’s very effective because of that.”

That type of motor is likely why Klinsmann started Bedoya with many of the other lineup regulars in this past Tuesday’s 2-0 win vs. Azerbaijan. The U.S.’s tough competition at the World Cup will require the Americans to have fit players on the outside who can run at and tire opponents on the offensive end as well as put in the necessary work defensively, especially since the fullbacks might sometimes be caught overlapping up the field.

“I’m not the type of wide midfielder that’s a winger that’s going to stay on the touchline and paint my shoes white,” said Bedoya. “As you saw the last game, we kind of played a 4-4-2 diamond and I think that’s expected of the winger so to speak – me, Graham (Zusi), whoever it is playing out wide – to tuck inside and have them overlapping us.

“Me and Graham and some of the other guys we have here are box-to-box players so we’re expected to cover for them when they’re going forward and we lose the ball on a counterattack and likewise they’ll do the same for us.”

Being in a position to talk about the tactics of a World Cup squad was something Bedoya missed out four years ago, but his growth since then has made him a stronger and more confident player. Not only one that is headed for Brazil, but one that could potentially play a significant role as well.

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43 Responses to After missing out in 2010, Bedoya poised to make World Cup dream come true

  1. stanson says:

    Bedoya was selected to L’Equipe’s Worst 11 of the season: link to i.imgur.com. I think he had a pretty poor season.

    • Bac says:

      An American criticized in France???
      NO!!!
      At least he was poor enough to start or play most of the season and get some pretty good props from his coach…

    • ChrisTheLSUTiger says:

      That makes no sense. He was solid for Nantes.

    • Michael Stypulkoski says:

      Without the context it’s hard to comment on that, other than to point out that he’s not the only player on that “team” who will be at the World Cup. The keeper plays for Cameroon (I think I remember that correctly), and one of the defenders is Ghanaian.

      • foooo says:

        The players on the Worst 11 are there based on an average of the grades they received after every match they played this past season (had to have played a minimum of 19 matches).

    • foooo says:

      Jonathan Mensah is on that worst 11 team as well.

    • Good Jeremy says:

      Interesting demographics on the list.
      I see two white guys and only one of the white guys is French.
      I guess it’s *possible* that 10/11 of the worst graded players in the domestic league of a predominately white nation are either African-French or of another nationality…

    • bryan says:

      lol that’s some BS. 6 goals and 2 assists for a newly promoted team that stayed up. terrible….

  2. Steve says:

    Rooting for Bedoya, but he just wasn’t good enough against Azerbaijan. Too many giveaways when he gets into tight spaces, and too much of the head-down, go for speed only. He looked like me in my rec league, and that’s not a compliment.

    His play certainly made me miss Donovan. I hope his play improves, he’s now a critical player for us.

    • Taylor Twellman says:

      He is so much of a better defender than Donovan it isn’t even funny

    • Ali Dia says:

      I concur about his performance vs. Azerbaijan. Nobody turned in a more anonymous performance. It’s one game. The first friendly. And most everybody lacked sharpness. I’ll give him a do-over on that basis alone. There is a big opportunity for him and I hope he shows us how he earned the job at the next turn.

    • sammysounder says:

      He didn’t play well enough to nail down the starting spot. Based on Azerbaijan it looks like Zusi and Davis on the wings.

  3. KingGoogleyEye says:

    Nice write-up, Franco. I’m happy to see Bedoya on the team, especially after pushing through so many club changes.

  4. Curtis says:

    I like this kid a lot. Not sure what we will get from him in Brazil in terms of final product, but I know he will work his socks off and get up and down the field for each and every minute he is on the pitch.

    My personal starting lineup would have had Bedoya on the left mid and Donovan on the right — just don’t feel like Zusi has the foot speed necessary at this level — but as it stands, Bedoya is a huge wild card who could be a breakout player for us.

    Hope so, at least.

  5. DubVman says:

    I always love the comments from guys like Stanson. Where did you play?

    • Curtis says:

      That one puzzled me as well — is that true?

      I watched Bedoya with Nantes about 5-7 times on BeinTV, and thought Bedoya acquitted himself nicely.

      • User222 says:

        hmm.. is that why he was mostly a bench player?

        • NCSaxo says:

          He played 31 games, and started 23. This is not difficult information to find.

        • Anthony says:

          You must know the meaning of the term “mostly”. I say this because he mostly started most games in Ligue 1 he played. He started 23 of their 36 matches. He also started a couple more in the cup games. He only made 12 games (2 were cup games) as a substitute. In case you don’t know, nobody starts all matches.

          link to fcnantes.com

          • Anthony says:

            You must *not* know the meaning of the term “mostly”. I say this because he started most of the games he played in Ligue 1. He started 23 of Nantes’ 38 Ligue 1 matches. He also started a couple more in the cup games. He only made 12 games (2 were cup games) as a substitute. In case you don’t know, nobody starts all matches.

            link to fcnantes.com

            -PS: this website needs an edit/delete option.

  6. Ty says:

    Personally he’s the worst player on the roster in my eyes. He works hard and is fast but other than that he’s a fringe national teamer in my mind.

    • Curtis says:

      Yeah — he is quite raw at times, and he does seem to only know how to go at one speed: full-steam ahead.

      Still, I really like the hard work and the speed on the flanks. Hope he steps-up in Brazil and makes a splash. We will need it.

    • Tony in Quakeland says:

      Watching him the other night I was hard pressed to remember what I ever liked about him….

      • Jack says:

        he did put in a cross Wondo probably should have scored from

      • Ty says:

        Ditto. Still a US Nat so I still root for him but he’s no better than a Chris Pontious in my mind.

      • Vic says:

        He has more goals for his club team (5) than Altidore (1). He also had alot of assists for Nantes, he delivers a good final ball and is a fan favorite.

    • GW says:

      If it works out he could be the USMNT’s version of James Milner.

      • Increase says:

        Nothing wrong with that really. Milner plays hard, isn’t stupid and I feel he is rather aware of his limitations. He is perfect for wearing out a more talented opponent.

      • Hogatroge says:

        I’m hoping he shows well for himself in the next 2 friendlies. The whole team had tired legs against Azerbaijan.

        That said, not sure I would have taken Bedoya over Donovan or even Corona. But we’re past that point.

  7. Cliff Poncier says:

    Graham and I.

  8. Mueller says:

    I like him. Best defensive wide midfielder in the squad.

  9. Good Jeremy says:

    I like him, but don’t see why we start both him and Zusi. They’re very similar and it leaves us no speed or scoring threat on the wings.

    • Artie says:

      Silly Jeremy–Bedoya and Zusi are the only possible options. It’s not like there’s anyone with significant experience playing for the US who could provide a speed or scoring threat on the wing.

      • Paul says:

        LOL! See what you did there. Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t LD mainly a forward nowadays and not a wing?

        Aside from that, I’ve moved on.

      • petro4ever says:

        Exactly. There isn’t.

  10. Baptista says:

    The guy did good in Gold Cup and played steadily, so he is one of the 15 or so players in that roster who are going to Brazil on their own merit and not because Klnsmann has a hard on for them or their fathers.

  11. User222 says:

    Unlike many of you, I never rated Bedoya high… his defense has improve which is required for today’s game. He’s still the same one trick pony from 4 years ago… run on the right wing and serve an average cross… and if by any chance he happens to cut to the inside he finds himself having to right feet, no creativity… And on LM he’s playing inverted, he is even worse… not sure
    what JK is thinking.

    Bedoya’s WC spot was Josh Gatt’s to lose. Gatt is faster, has dribbling skill and takes defenders on, he has played RB, RM and winger for his club in Europe until he tore his ACL.

    A month ago Gatt re-injured the same knee operated last year, it looks like a Holden all over again.

    Without Gatt, the USMNT needs Bedoya, I wish him well in his career but skill wise he needs to take it to another level.

    • Anthony says:

      Gatt, to me, has potential, but has yet to show me more. I cannot say he is better that Bedoya because I have not seen much of him.

  12. OB Rick says:

    Is it really possible that French people may not like Americans???