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U.S. national team discussion: The Alejandro Bedoya conundrum

Dec 11, 2013, 2:31 PM EDT

Bedoya

Before too long U.S. national team manager Jurgen Klinsmann has to make those difficult, final calls; he already has a good idea, I’m sure, of which 23 players he will ideally take to Brazil.

But there is one sticking point, I believe: What to do about Alejandro Bedoya?

Klinsmann needs wingers, or the closest proximity thereof. And he doesn’t have many of them. Brek Shea, whose minutes at Stoke City have been precious and few, is still in the conversation for one reason: see above. No wingers. Klinsmann just doesn’t have many options to stretch the field horizontally, guys to run at defenders with menace.

Landon Donovan could certainly still be that guy; but does he want to be that guy?

Graham Zusi can play out wide, but it’s really just a starting position for him. Zusi at his best has license to drift inside and find the spaces best for creating, as he does so well for Sporting Kansas City, rather than pinned to more restrictive role out wide.

So then we arrive at Bedoya.

If we’re honest, the 26-year-old winger has not made the best of recent starting opportunities afforded by Klinsmann. He’s been OK at best. But “OK at best” won’t cut it in the World Cup. We’ve said so all along about guys who hold their own in friendlies or in internationals against lightweight opposition. “Hold your own” is a starting point internationally; it gets you into the conversation, but it can never be seen as the port of arrival. International soccer is about something more.

And now this point cannot possible be overemphasized, not with Germany, Portugal and habitual U.S. troublemaker Ghana looming on the World Cup schedule. (Plus whoever might lurk in the second round, where the World Cup really gets difficult.)

The U.S. manager told us that Bedoya was getting those chances in the starting 11 because he was in such good form for his club, French Ligue 1 side Nantes. And those top shelf performances keep a’ comin’! Look what American Soccer Now just said about Bedoya’s latest output in a pair of matches for Nantes.

It is getting redundant to put Bedoya so high on this list every week but there is no question he deserves it. On Tuesday he scored and set up a penalty for Nantes in a 2-1 win over Valenciennes. On Friday he rose to the occasion again.

“With Nantes having a difficult task away against a talented Olympique Marseille team, Bedoya scored the game’s only goal in the first half to give Nantes a valuable three points which moved the club into fourth place in Ligue 1. It was not goal for the highlight reel but he did well to get into a scoring position and made the most of it.”

But where was that difference-making ability in recent friendlies against Scotland and Austria? Bedoya always provides energy, but that’s not enough. Telling crosses and moments that ask questions of defenders, that’s what he needs to deliver with far greater frequency.

You wonder if he he’ll keep getting the opportunities to deliver them?

  1. hildezero - Dec 11, 2013 at 3:10 PM

    I think Bedoya ain’t gonna get called up.

    • jay1934 - Dec 11, 2013 at 6:52 PM

      Klinsman has his favorites. It doesn’t matter how good the player is.

      • bear06 - Dec 12, 2013 at 3:21 AM

        Umm what? He does not have his favorites. He has been fair on who he has called up to the national team.

      • truthspoken416 - Dec 12, 2013 at 10:02 AM

        JK most certainly has his favorites. Like the article said he uses Shea. It does not matter that we are short on wingers, we have plenty of players playing regularly at wing. They should get a shot. JK said the key to the national team is playing time..shea doesnt even DRESS for stoke let along sit the bench.

        Beckerman, Zusi, Shea, Besler, Davis, evans are all mediocre bums who are not good enough to play for englands 2nd division let alone start for the WC lol…. I’ve said it a 100 times…play a national televised friendly with JK’s XI v JK snubs…let the Country see for themselves who should get a camp spot….

      • bear06 - Dec 13, 2013 at 3:27 AM

        @truthspoken416,

        Just because he has called up and given opportunities to the likes of Shea and Davis so they can prove themselves it doesn’t mean they are JK favorites so that’s a bunch of BS. Also calling Zusi and Besler mediocre bums is also a bunch of BS made up by you, because they have performed really well for the U.S. MNT. Snubs? Lol! There are no snubs.

    • bear06 - Dec 12, 2013 at 3:22 AM

      Yes, he will. He’s playing really well for FC Nantes in Ligue 1 which is a top 5 league.

  2. dfstell - Dec 11, 2013 at 3:16 PM

    I think it’s pretty simple and it all has to do with his USMNT teammates not being threatening enough.

    When Bedoya gets the ball against the fullback, every possession looks mostly the same. The fullback just stays with him down to the endline and then Bedoya crosses to the lone forward and/or the left winger/midfielder who is going for the back post. That isn’t that hard for the centerbacks and keeper to defend.

    The problem is that nobody is moving into the space that Bedoya creates by taking the fullback all the way to the endline. That is where our right back needs to be OR one of our central midfielders. But, Evans at right back doesn’t get forward like that and Jones/Bradley don’t always make that run to the top of the box. If they did, that gives the centerback something else to worry about because they can’t just collapse on the forward in the box.

    That’s when it would be nice to have a real right back or a central midfielder more like Frank Lampard who will run to the top of the box, give Bedoya someone to cut it back to and put a shot on target.

    It seems pretty simple to me. I’m not sure how to change it though. Maybe you just don’t take Bedoya to the World Cup? Brek Shea is a totally different kind of winger. He’s just trying to kill you in transition with speed and directness.

    • gra42 - Dec 11, 2013 at 5:23 PM

      That’s why Johnson needs to stay in the back and not get wasted in the midfield. He’s literally the only defender we’ve had in about 15 years who actually moves and supports the offensive side of the game. We have 4-5 guys who can look decent at winger as long as, like you said, the defense doesn’t strand them.

    • talgrath - Dec 11, 2013 at 5:26 PM

      i couldn’t disagree more. At least with the USMNT he rarely seems to be putting in a dangerous cross, even when there are plenty of people in and around the box. Bedoya has put in some great effort but he never seems to have that final touch, he’s had enough time to pick it up too. What’s worse, it seems like when Bedoya gets the ball the game slows, which is bad when you’re trying to speed the game up like the USMNT has tried to do.

  3. danielofthedale - Dec 11, 2013 at 4:20 PM

    Seems like people were saying all this stuff at one Jozy Altidore not very long ago. Be dogs clearly has the talent and skill to be on the World Cup team. I think it’s a matter of when not if he translate that club form to the nation team. Once he has that breakout game more will follow.

  4. hildezero - Dec 11, 2013 at 8:55 PM

    Tell me about it… Look at Michael Orozco.

  5. jimmycrackcorn99 - Dec 12, 2013 at 12:04 AM

    He will probably get a hard look during the friendlies in early 2014 and that will decide if he goes to Brazil or not. Personally I like him and think that he might be a good substitute for Zusi or LD in the evnt of yellow card or injury. And he is head and shoulders above Shea in almost all categories.

    • bear06 - Dec 12, 2013 at 3:23 AM

      Well said!

  6. hildezero - Dec 12, 2013 at 12:17 PM

    @bear06,

    That doesn’t mean he will get called up.

    • bear06 - Dec 13, 2013 at 3:18 AM

      He has been called up consistently since the Gold Cup, so the odds of him getting called up are very good for Bedoya if he keeps playing well for FC Nantes.

  7. josephurban - Dec 12, 2013 at 2:11 PM

    For the first time in history the US team actually has more really good players than slots available. this is a good thing.

  8. cashtext4all.com - Dec 16, 2013 at 1:26 AM

    Bedoya doesn’t bring much to the table. The only thing he has is work-rate and that’s about it. He hustles.

  9. boscoesworld - Dec 16, 2013 at 5:31 PM

    As long as JK NEVER thinks he can use Eddie Johnson in midfield again I will be happy!! Fabian Johnson on the other hand….me likey. He is the most creative wide player we have on either side. That begs the question of who plays left back. Let JK figure that one out. Shea is a very serviceable change of pace on the left. It’s really a toss up on the right and I think Bedoya should be in the mix with Zusi. Donovan will be where he is best, running behind the forward playmaking. I doubt he will play wide.

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