[INTERVIEW]Florida product Alejandro Bedoya is among the players with a chance to establish themselves as Coach Bob Bradley embarks on his second cycle as U.S. head coach. The 23-year-old, who narrowly missed a 2010 World Cup roster spot, moved from Boston College to Swedish top-tier club Orebro SK in 2009 and soon earned a starting spot in midfield, which led to his U.S. debut in January. Bedoya discusses his adjustment to Sweden, his soccer-playing childhood, his U.S hopes ...
SOCCER AMERICA: You’ve made a smooth adjustment to playing abroad. What was the key?
ALEJANDRO BEDOYA: So far it’s been great. It has to do a lot with the person. You have to be level-headed and have a strong mentality. I moved over there not just for soccer reasons. It makes you a better person. It makes you stronger.
(Editor's note: Boedoya made 25 appearances for Orebro SK in 2009 and this Allsvenskan season has played in 19 of third-place OSK's 21 games.)
SA: Not all Americans who move abroad adjust easily. What are the main challenges?
AB: You’re away from home, away from homecooking, your family and friends. You have to focus on what you’re there for. I know what I want in my future and I have to just keep working hard.
SA: How important is the learning the language?
AB: I’m lucky, most people in Sweden speak English, but I’ve taken Swedish classes and I can talk. But it’s hard because they do speak English. I understand just about everything, but they don’t let me talk because they hear my accent and start talking English to me.
SA: How different is the style of play from what you were used to in college?
AB:It’s pretty much the same. At Boston College, I played in an offensive 4-3-3 like we do over there. Obviously, it’s a higher level but it’s a good style of soccer we play over there. The speed of play is a lot higher than college. It’s a pretty good level.
SA: Did your family have a soccer background?
AB: My dad, when he was young, played for Millonarios in Colombia. Then he was scouted and seen by schools in the States and he ended up choosing that path. He played at Farleigh Dickinson University before deciding to get his master's.
SA: What was your youth soccer experience like?
AB: When I moved to Florida [from New Jersey] I was about 9 years old. I believe one of the rules was to play AYSO first, then go into travel club soccer. I played AYSO for two-three years before turning my full attention on club soccer for Weston FC.
I was a small kid but always had a strong shot. My nickname was Alley-oop because all the parents would always scream that whenever I got the ball. This was a reference from basketball when a player throws a ball up toward the hoop. I would just always take long shots that would end up going over the goalies' head, high and away, and into the back of the net!
SA: Your last of four appearances for the USA was the 2-0 friendly loss to Brazil in August. How do you feel about your performance and your national team future?
AB: I think I did all right offensively and defensively. But it was a tough opponent. I think I had good movement off the ball, trying to find the seams. I had some good runs. I just take experience from this and keep learning and going on.