FRISCO, Texas – The United States national limped across the finish line to calendar year 2014 with losses to Colombia and Ireland. That stinking loss on the Emerald Isle was a particular bummer; the United States finished on the business end of a 4-1 beat-down to the Irish, the kind of European middleweight with which the United States should be competitive now, at the very least.
But one American performance generally rose above his peers in those two contests: that of Alejandro Bedoya.
As 2014 finished, the Nantes midfielder was coming off his best year in pro soccer. He played in all four U.S. matches at last summer’s World Cup and was a valued, ongoing presence for his Ligue 1 club in France.
At 27 years old (last fall), Bedoya was exactly the kind of guy U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann could build around as the next World Cup cycle got off the ground. Bedoya was a versatile attacker, probably best out wide but serviceable in interior spots, and a dependably diligent grinder wherever he was needed.
So it was really a bummer when a lingering knee injury kept Bedoya out of those two high-profile U.S. friendlies last month. At a time when he should have been on the field, securing his place in the CONCACAF Gold Cup and World Cup qualifiers ahead, Bedoya was sitting on a frustrating idle, pinging from doctor to doctor while laboring to unravel why a relatively minor knee ailment was keeping him on the sidelines.
Finally, after becoming frustrated with doctors at Nantes, Bedoya consulted with the U.S. national team staff and, after a little more rest, got things sorted out.
Now Bedoya is ready to get going again – or just about so.
“I feel better and better every day,” he said Monday as the team held its second training session in suburban Dallas. “I feel like with every game we play [in training], with every small-sided game or whatever, I am more than keeping up with everybody.”
The Americans open CONCACAF Gold Cup play Tuesday night against Honduras. Panama and Haiti are also in the group, from which Klinsmann’s team should comfortably emerge. Neither Panama nor Honduras will be a pushover, but as 8 of 12 teams advance into the tournament’s knockout stage from group play, the safe bet is for U.S. to advance with little trouble.