August 09, 2016
In a world full of canned quotes, Alejandro Bedoya is a breath of fresh air.
The United States international midfielder strayed from boring cliches at his introductory press conference on Tuesday morning.
Instead, he spoke with an honesty and bluntness that Philadelphia sports fans should appreciate.
Bedoya dropped a few pieces of new information during his meeting with the media. The 29-year old confirmed that his contract length is three and a half years. He explained that Chicago and Columbus were also keen on securing his signature and that he had spoken with Fire head coach and former Union player Veljko Paunovic. The New Jersey native thought he might end up in Illinois, but preferred Philadelphia from the start.
Bedoya explained that he'd always wanted to return to MLS at some point, but the process of getting him to Philly wasn't so easy.
"Everybody knows I’ve been pretty vocal about MLS and things like that," Bedoya said. "It’s been more confusing and complicated than it really needed to be, but like I said, when I first met Jim (Curtin) and Chris (Albright) in Nantes when they were scouting Fernando Aristeguieta, who they were able to bring here, ever since they knew about my interest about coming back. And I think they pursued that for the past year, and I’m forever grateful for this opportunity that they’ve given me, that Earnie (Stewart) has given me as well, and the whole Philly organization. And I’ve mentioned in the past that I’ve always wanted to come back and that was always there. But obviously, with the MLS regulations and all this stuff that goes on, it wasn’t the simplest of processes."
Detractors might say that Bedoya is taking the easy way out by coming back to Major League Soccer. It's the same criticism that Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey received when they left Europe while still in their prime.
Bedoya was one of the few American internationals still plying his trade in Europe, so for the portion of the fanbase that believes the U.S. needs European-based players, they might see the move as disappointing.
Others would say that adding quality players like Bedoya improves the level of MLS.
"I don’t care what people say," Bedoya explained. "They don’t speak for me, for my family, what goes on behind the scenes. All I can say to them is that I went over to Europe straight from college. I did my thing there, was there almost nine years, climbed the ladder, so to speak. I was able to always be performing on good teams in one of the best leagues in Europe. I 'challenged myself' (Bedoya used a quote/unquote gesture) if that satisfies fans or whatever. I was a consistent player on every team I was a part of. Glasgow Rangers aside, there were different circumstances there that didn’t allow me to do that.
"But I was very humbled, and it was amazing to see the responses I got when I said it was my Philly move and I was moving away from Europe. You see every club that I’ve been a part of, I’ve been blessed to have made a difference. And that really humbled me and I think wherever I’ve been, I’ve met the challenge in front of me. I think there’ve been a handful, not more than ten Americans that have been playing consistently for a top team in Europe in a top league. And I’ve been doing that.
"So for people that want to say I’ve been taking the easy way or whatever they say, coming back to MLS, that’s a lot of B.S., because I’ve done the hard stuff and I’ve been able to perform in Europe at a top club like Nantes in one of the best leagues. I’m coming here for a bunch of different reasons and one of them now is another new challenge that’s in front of me: being a part of this Philly team and taking them into the playoffs and making a run."
One thing that Bedoya did sort of speak around was the idea of what position he would like to play on the field.
Or, maybe he didn't speak around it. Maybe he truly does feel comfortable in multiple positions and sees himself being happy and comfortable in various spots.
This is a player that started his career on the wings before moving inside centrally. He's played the 10 in the past, but also plays the eight, where the Union deployed Vincent Nogueira before his untimely departure.
It's almost certain that Bedoya will debut as a number eight in Union blue.
"I really don’t have a concrete answer to that," Bedoya said. "As much as you’d like to hear me say that I play a certain position, a preferred position, I think I’ve mentioned it before: I can play behind a striker, in a 4-3-3 as a number eight… I got all of these tweets saying that’s what I posted a long time ago or whatever (smiles). But throughout my career in Europe, and even with the national team, I’ve always been a versatile player. So I’m comfortable playing wherever Jim feels that I need to play. And I’m here to help the team out in any way that I can. So whether it’s playing out wide, on the right or the left, or behind the striker, or number eight, or whatever it is, it doesn’t matter to me. I’m going to go out on the field and do my best to help the team win."