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Ambassadors of the Beautiful Game


U.S. Men's National Team midfielder Alejandro Bedoya and head coach Jurgen Klinsmann met with U.S. Ambassador to Brazil Liliana Ayalde after training on Wednesday

Alejandro Bedoya had just completed a whirlwind media blitz. Over the course of about 30 minutes, the midfielder met with a crowd of writers at a round picnic table at the U.S. National Team's home base at the São Paulo F.C. training ground, then went on camera for T.V. interviews immediately after. On days like this, it's unheard of that a player would have to ask to talk to somebody.

Yet that's exactly what Bedoya did.

"She's here? Can I talk with her?" he asked a U.S. Soccer staffer after his whirlwind session. The "she" he referred to: Liliana Ayalde, the United States' ambassador to Brazil, a big soccer fan, and one of a handful of U.S. government dignitaries on hand for the team's public training session on Wednesday.

"It's exciting because they're right here in Sao Paulo," Ayalde said. "It's an amazing welcome by the fans, we've got record numbers of Americans coming, and it's going to be a big celebration."

Ayalde and Bedoya discussed their shared international background in their conversation – both were born to Colombian parents but grew up in the United States before following careers that took them abroad. Bedoya followed his soccer dream to Sweden, Scotland, and France. Ayalde served diplomatic posts in Bangladesh and a wide array of locations in Latin and South America.

After taking some pictures with Bedoya, Ayalde was also able to have a chat with the team's manager, Jurgen Klinsmann.

"I feel very privileged; there are a number of fans that would like to do the same thing," she said. "I wanted to transmit to him good luck and best wishes for the team."

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