8916_supplied_bedoyaalejandro_nd5_9982 Photos courtesy Philadelphia Union
Major League Soccer

Alejandro Bedoya Discusses His Move to Philadelphia

The 29-year-old U.S. international has taken shots at MLS in the past, but during Tuesday's press conference he expressed a genuine excitement to join the league and play soccer close to home.
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
August 09, 2016
3:45 PM

UNITED STATES men's national team veteran Alejandro Bedoya met the media Tuesday morning for his formal introduction as a member of the Philadelphia Union. The New Jersey-born, Florida-raised midfielder has played in Europe since leaving Boston College in 2008. During that time he has played for Orebro, Rangers, Helsingborg, and Nantes.

The addition of Bedoya, 29, continues a club makeover that began after the 2015 season when the Union hired former U.S. international Earnie Stewart away from AZ Alkmaar as the team’s sporting director. The club had three picks in the top 10 of the 2016 MLS Superdraft and it also signed former U.S. international Charlie Davies for much-needed forward depth behind C.J. Sapong. Finally, two young players in right back Keegan Rosenberry and goalkeeper Andres Blake have emerged as significant contributors. The only blemish was the loss of central midfielder Vincent Nogueira due to health concerns

Bedoya, 29, is the expected to provide a signifiant upgrade for the organization.

“I think he brings a lot of experience, excitement of being overseas—a lot," Stewart said. "He is somebody that we can add to our core group right now that has that experience to bring us over the line, but most and foremost, he checks all of those boxes that we believe a player for the Philadelphia Union has to have. Has certain assets that we can definitely use going towards the playoffs.”

Bedoya said he elected to leave Europe and Nantesdue to a combination of circumstances and firmly insisted that he was not taking the easy way out. On the field, he likes the direction of the Union and the league. But off the field, he liked the idea bringing his family back to the United States.

“I was in Europe almost nine years. I had a baby born who is 16 months old now, and just for different situations I think the bigger picture here is not just me coming back, but what this organization is doing,” Bedoya said. “Where it is heading, bringing Earnie and Jim (Curtin) here, Chris (Albright)—everybody who is part of the club. The direction that they’re going in is something that I really bought into and want to be a part of.

"So, the first interest when I came a year ago, maybe I wasn’t quite ready to come back, but it was always in the back of my mind. I wanted to be able to be back in the states. I’ve always had that, always wanted to be a part of MLS, and I thought Philly was probably for me the best fit with everything that they’re doing, what they’re putting in place here.

“I think wherever I have been I have met the challenge in front of me. I think there’s been a handful, or not more than 10 Americans, that have been playing consistently for a top team in Europe, and a top league, and I’ve been doing that. So, for me, for people that want to say that I am taking the easy way, or whatever they say, coming back to MLS, I mean it’s a lot of B.S. [chuckles] because I have done the hard stuff and I have been able to perform in Europe for a tough club like Nantes in one of the best leagues, and I have come for different reasons—for a bunch of different reasons.”

While in Europe Bedoya had been critical of MLS, mostly for its confusing business operations that are different from most places around the world. On Tuesday he did not back away from that point of view, joking that the process was “a lot more complicated and confusing than it needed to be with this league—with TAM (target allocation money) and whatever it’s called, GAM (general allocation money). Throw in my buddy Sam and Cam and you get me or something.”

Philadelphia had been in contact with Bedoya for more than a year and while the Union was his destination of choice, he also acknowledged that Chicago and Columbus were also interested and at one point he thought he was going to Chicago.

Now at Philadelphia, the big question becomes where and how Curtin will use him. Bedoya is known as a versatile player and has featured across the midfield at both the club and international levels. How he will play in Philadelphia remains to be seen and Bedoya ducked the question when asked.

“I know, as much as you’d like to hear me say I play a certain position or a preferred position,” Bedoya said, “I think I’ve mentioned it before that I can play behind a striker, in a 4-3-3, or as a No. 8. I got all these tweets saying that’s what I posted about a long time ago. I’m comfortable playing wherever Jim feels that I need to play and I’m here to help the team out in any way I can.

"So whether it’s playing out wide on the right or left, behind the striker or maybe at the No. 8 or whatever it is, it doesn’t matter to me. I’m going to go out there on the field and do my best to help the team win.”

As far as Philadelphia and Curtin are concerned, Bedoya needs to be able to contribute right away. The club is winless in its last four and since Nogueira’s departure, the club has tumbled from first to fifth place in the Eastern Conference. Not much was expected of Philadelphia prior to this season but now this is a team that will have pressure to not only make the playoffs, but to make a run.

Curtin stated that Bedoya should not feel any pressure to carry the team on his shoulders.    

“On the field, I have no concerns with Alejandro,” Curtin said. “The pressure is now on the players, myself, the staff to get him acclimated. He just has to go out on the field and play. Because, he is a special player. He’s a guy that makes everyone’s job easier on the field, a guy that has been in big games and played in pressure situations, has experience, wants the ball in tight spots and difficult places to turn and go at defenses to make them backpeddle.

"Again, as a team now, everybody just has to do their part to make Alejandro feel welcomed and Alejandro just has to play. There’s no pressure on him.”

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