When Alejandro Bedoya speaks, you should probably listen

Alejandro Bedoya is one of MLS's wise men.

When he speaks, you should probably listen.

At 32, Bedoya is in fifth MLS season, having helped turn the Philadelphia Union into a regular Eastern Conference challenger, after eight years abroad at clubs in Sweden, Scotland and France.

The 2014 World Cup veteran has spoken his mind about a host of subjects, whether it's charter flights -- he championed the fight for more charter flights in the new CBA -- or gun violence -- his goal celebration demanding action from Congress to curb gun violence after 2019 shootings in Dayton and El Paso made headlines around the world.

So when he spoke out about MLS's plan first reported by the Washington Post to bring all 26 teams to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando for its relaunch, his candor wasn't surprising.

In an interview on ESPN's Banter with Taylor Twellman, Bedoya likened the idea of spending two months in isolation, living at one of the Disney World resorts and training and playing at the soccer field complex, to being in a "luxurious prison."

Speaking after the Union's second day of individual workouts in Delaware -- it's not yet cleared to train at its home complex in Chester, Pennsylvania -- Bedoya said he's all for playing again but balked at the length of time players would have to be in Orlando.

"I would start off by saying that I think every one of us agree that we want to get back to playing," he said. "I want to get back out there, being competitive, [playing] games. The staff wants to be out there, fans want to be watching games, but I will say that this all feels a little bit rushed. I think that we all need to be partners in this, you know, ESPN and Disney, which owns ESPN, is just partnering with MLS to help the owners out and to show games and get this done. I think the players are taking all the risks by going down [to Orlando], being isolated. It's a strong term to say, but it's like being in a luxurious prison."

Bedoya is used to spending preseason in Florida, where the Union usually holds two winter camps of about 10-14 days in Clearwater. Orlando would be different.

"Essentially, we're going to be sequestered in a hotel at Disney not being able to do much," he said. "This isn't normal preseason where we can have the freedom to go to out to dinner with the guys, where we can go to a movie theater to watch a movie, where we can even go for a quick run to CVS to get the essentials. This is just straight lock-down. For eight weeks minimum is what they're asking, 10 weeks if you're in a final. I don't know about you, but a lot of guys have families. Even if you're single, a young player, I mean eight weeks alone, not being able to do much? Like I said, it's like a luxury prison. You can go out for the yard for recess, to training and for a game, here and there. And the rest of the time you're just isolating."

Bedoya, who is married with two small children, said he preferred regional hubs, where teams could play over 2-3 weeks, pointing to Union's situation in the Northeast as an example.

"We don't even have to pay for charter flights again anywhere," he said. "Let's take a neutral site, regional play. All these teams take a big bus ride, you know, two or three weeks. You can play three games every three days, two, three weeks and you get the same number of games that they're trying to get in Orlando."

There's a lot to be said for the concept of regional hubs, though logistics aren't as easy when you get outside of the Northeast.

The Orlando concept --  four weeks of training and four weeks of games -- would allow teams to get to speed in terms of fitness, currently a problem for some teams in parts of the country where they remain locked down. Having the run of Disney facilities would make the lock-down -- well -- cleaner, but it might be too good of a concept.

"I think this is where I feel like this Orlando tournament idea is a little bit rushed," added Bedoya. "Let's wait it out. I saw yesterday something about New York and California opening up the possibility of playing in their venues, sporting events. A couple more days, as things go by, as testing is more widely available, we're learning more and as the curve continues to go down. There is some still time there for us to continue to stay relevant, get games and in a safe way that's reasonable for all players partaking."

2 comments about "When Alejandro Bedoya speaks, you should probably listen".
  1. Guy Walling, May 21, 2020 at 8:31 a.m.

    Yeah agreed! These MLS player are not getting paid enough to be isolated for two months! Players are human too! If the general population are out protesting because they can't be locked down any long and you have President Trump saying we risk suicide, drug addiction, and domestic violence if we prolong lockdown, how the hell can we do this to soccer players?? They are humans too. Please people have a heart for everyone in time if need. There must be a better more humane way to do this. Will the MLS leaders and those who decided upon this scam of a money making opportunity at the expense of players be locking down too? 

  2. Valerie Metzler, May 21, 2020 at 10:34 a.m.

    O, Captain! My captain!

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