Alejandro Bedoya - Philadelphia Union introductory press conference - 8/9/16

US national team midfielder Alejandro Bedoya has a message for anyone questioning why he’d leave Europe for MLS:

He's already proven himself overseas for close to a decade. And now he’s ready for a new challenge, whether you like it or not.

“I don’t care what people say,” the Philadelphia Union’s new Designated Player said in his introductory press conference Tuesday, six days after Philly acquired him from French club FC Nantes. “They don’t speak for me, for my family, or what goes on behind the scenes. All I can say to them is that I went to Europe straight from college. I did my thing there. I was there almost nine years. I climbed the ladder, so to speak. ...

“For people who want to say I’m taking the easy way or whatever they say because I’m coming back to MLS, it’s a lot of BS because I’ve done the hard stuff and was able to perform in Europe on a top club in one of the top leagues. And I’m coming here for a bunch of different reasons.”

Bedoya, who spent time playing in Sweden, Scotland and France after wrapping up his college career at Boston College in 2008, laid out many of those reasons ahead of his MLS debut Saturday in New England (7:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE).

A big one is certainly the fact that the New Jersey native has a 16-month-old son that he wants to be closer to his grandparents, admitting that “there are bigger things than soccer.” Another is his friendship with several players on the Union, including captain Maurice Edu, top scorer Chris Pontius and fellow newcomer Charlie Davies, his old Boston College roommate who excitedly FaceTimed him in Paris when he found out he’d be coming to Philly too.

And, perhaps most importantly, is how he bought into the organization’s bold vision that was laid out by head coach Jim Curtin, sporting director Earnie Stewart and technical director Chris Albright.

“I always said that I wanted to be part of MLS, and I thought Philly for me was probably the best fit with everything they’re doing,” he said. “Now being able to be back and play with old friends like Mo and Charlie and stuff like that, it makes it really fun. I’m really looking forward to this next challenge — because it’s going to be a challenge.”

Bedoya admitted the whole process of returning to MLS was “more confusing and complicated than it really needed to be,” with Philly beginning its pursuit of the US national team stalwart over a year ago. He also said the Chicago Fire and Columbus Crew SC were in the mix to acquire him, before he inked a a contract with Philadelphia that will take him through the 2019 season.

Now, he not only hopes to help guide the Union into the playoffs this season and for many to come but also help help boost the profile of MLS, which he said “definitely has the ability to be one of the top leagues in the world.”

“MLS is growing,” Bedoya said. “I’ve always wanted to be a part of the growth. And here I am now.”