The 23-year-old Alejandro Bedoya has steadily been rising through the ranks of professional and international soccer. After being a two-time finalist for the Hermann Trophy at Fairleigh Dickinson University and Boston College, he moved to Örebro in Sweden's top division where he has spent the last two seasons improving his craft. Called into the January camp in 2010, he was part of the 30-man preliminary roster for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. He spoke to us about life in Sweden, his growth as a player, and what it will mean to play against Colombia, the country of his roots ...
ussoccer.com: Tell us a little bit about the town of Örebro…
AB: “The main landmark of the city is a huge castle built about 700 years ago. It’s a cool town to live in, especially during the holiday of Midsummer. The festival goes on for a week. There’s huge bonfires, and fireworks at night. It’s very strange to have a day that has a full 24 hours of sunlight.
ussoccer.com: How’s the Swedish coming along?
AB: “I can pretty much get by. I took classes for three months, so I understand just about everything. And I can have conversations and order in restaurants, things like that.”
ussoccer.com: You were part of the 30-man preliminary roster for the FIFA World Cup. Despite the disappointment of not making the final roster, what did you take away from the experience?
AB: “It was great to be a part of it, and definitely a growing experience. To be in the pro ranks for a little more than a year and then get that opportunity was something I never expected. It certainly gave me more confidence, and motivates me for the future.”
ussoccer.com: Could you sense when you got back to your club that you were a different player?
AB: “Even after January camp and then getting called into Holland game, I felt a gradual increase in confidence. I felt more comfortable on the field, and more patient on the ball. I guess you could say I felt less stress when I was playing. In soccer, confidence is huge.”
ussoccer.com: You’ve started nearly every game for Örebro this season. How are you being deployed?
AB: We play a 4-3-3, and in the midfield it’s a triangle with one holding midfielder. So I play as a right-sided attacked center midfielder. The starting point is tucked in, but I have freedom to float wide and create number advantages, and also to try and find space in between defensive lines.”
ussoccer.com: It’s now been about two years since you made the decision to go abroad. Are you happy with the decision?
AB: “I have no regrets. I think it helped me tremendously to go abroad in terms of the soccer as well as personally and mentally. Being away from family is tough in the beginning, but it forces you to mature faster. Sweden is a very tactical league and the trainings are very competitive, so it’s been good for my growth as a player. And of course it helped me get noticed by the national team.”
ussoccer.com: Do you think making the move to Europe at that age is something that every player should consider?
AB: “It depends on the person and what you really want. I already had my head set on going to Europe. As I said, it’s hard initially when you don’t have home cooking or your best friends around, so getting used to it is difficult. You have to realize you aren’t there for a vacation. You are there for business. Sweden is a great place to get scouted and move to other things. I would recommend it, but I wouldn’t say it’s for everybody. MLS has improved tremendously, so I think it is also a good starting point.”
ussoccer.com: Your family is originally from Colombia. How does everyone feel about the game on Oct. 12 at PPL Park?
AB: “It’s pretty cool. The family is pretty divided (laughs). Obviously they are all going to be rooting for me, except for my grandfather – he’s such a huge Colombia fan he may cheer for them! I grew up in a household where we watched USA games, but we also watched Colombia games, and if it wasn’t on TV we listened on the radio. I have relatives and friends back in Colombia who will be tuning in for the game. It should be fun.”
ussoccer.com: There may be some competition amongst your family for the jersey you exchange that day...
AB: “Knowing my grandfather, he’s going to want me to change with one of their defenders. He was a goalie, so he’s big on defense. I know he would love one of their jerseys.”