Postcard from Europe: Interest in Bedoya in MLS, Mexico
AMSTERDAM – When US international Alejandro Bedoya re-signed with Swedish side Helsingborg last week, some groans may have been audible inside the US soccer bubble. Those disappointed the midfielder could not seal a move to a bigger league needn't fret, though – he's got a plan.
In addition to other interest dotted across the globe, Bedoya had offers from the likes of Allsvenskan champs Elfsborg, Bundesliga survivalists Augsburg and this season's surprise package in Ukraine, FC Chernomorets. He rejected them all to ink another six-month contract with Helsingborg.
Sure, the 25-year-old is ready for a bigger challenge, but all the tightened belts around Europe made for an even slower winter window than usual. With the transfer market a bit frozen over, he simply opted to stand pat in wait for warmer activity.
"Part of the reason I stayed on another short-term deal is there will probably be more and better avenues in the summer," Bedoya told MLSsoccer.com by phone from Sweden on Wednesday. "And consistency was pretty much the key. Lots of playing time was crucial, so I can still develop as a player.
"Some of the teams weren't really what I was looking for, like teams fighting relegation. I had a couple of deals fall through because the team wasn't able to sell a player."
Bedoya also had calls from teams in both MLS and Mexico. He might have been more interested in playing back in America for the first time since his Boston College days were it not for the tricky allocation process that can leave returning USMNT players unsure of where they will end up.
"I had some interest from a few clubs there, but the way it runs makes it a bit complicated," he stated. "There are certain teams I would prefer, but it's not even about playing style. Obviously, my family is in the New York area."
With none of his winter options bearing fruit, Bedoya is now busy preparing for the start of Helsingborg's new campaign. Before league play start at the end of next month, the Reds will get started by opening Svenska Cupen (Swedish Cup) group stage play against Assyriska on March 2.
New boss Roar Hansen has made winning the tournament – and capturing the Europa League invite that comes with the crown – a top priority for early 2013. If he is to leave this summer, Bedoya would like to do so having boosted the club's finances by claiming his first professional winner's medal.
"One of our slogans before kickoff is that the cup is our way to Europe," he shared. "For the club, it's crucial."
They'll need an improvement on last year's sixth place finish – nine points off the top – to make the slogan a realty.
"Last year, before I came, they had a crazy number of ties," Bedoya recalled. "Even when we got here, we lost the lead in four games. They're looking for a lot more this year. I want to be a big part of the start of the season."
After arriving from Rangers last summer, he worked all possible midfield stations, as well as several games at forward. It's a tall task to switch positions so often, but Bedoya expects to have an easier time finding his groove this year.
"We're playing a new system, a 4-2-3-1," reported Bedoya. "Right now, I'm being used at the No. 10. It looks like that could be my position for the year. I think this position is probably one that suits me best."
In order to hold that place in the lineup, he has been doing extra shooting drills. Helsingborg was always eager to bring him back; now they want him to step up the production from the three goals and six assists he notched in 17 contests last year.
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"I think that finishing is something I really need to work on," said Bedoya. "If I can add being a goalscorer to my game, that will be good for the team as well."
It could certainly also help his standing with US boss Jurgen Klinsmann, who prefers most often to use Bedoya as a wide attacker.
Bedoya isn't sure whether he will be called in for March's two Hexagonal qualifiers. But either way, he expects a better team to show up than the drowsy bunch that fell in the opener at Honduras earlier this month.
"We're going to want to come out with a big point to prove to US soccer fans everywhere," he declared. "You can make all the excuses, but you just have to be stronger and grind it out. These teams all want to beat the US, so you've just got to fight."
It may seem like a lot of pressure for the New Jersey native, but he's enjoying it. All the extra responsibility should bring better results, if everything goes to his plan.
"Maybe a little more pressure gives you a kick in the butt," said Bedoya. "You get that fighting spirit and anger in your play that gives you extra energy."