Alejandro Bedoya - closeup - at US national team training
Stephanie Romero/LA Galaxy

Elder statesman Bedoya expects good result for young US side vs. Portugal

LISBON, Portugal – It might be only a friendly on Tuesday vs. European champions Portugal, and the US national team may have a young squad. But Alejandro Bedoya is still aiming for a positive result.

A local journalist asked him if it is possible to hold the No. 3-ranked team in the world, whose current roster is also full of youngsters, and Philadelphia Union and USMNT veteran’s answer was firm.

“I think it is possible not to lose,” replied Bedoya before Sunday’s practice session, led by interim coach Dave Sarachan. “Portugal has a strong team, they are No. 3 in the world, won the European Championship and we know that they are very capable. On paper it is one thing but you play the games on the field, it is 11 against 11 and anything can happen. I’m expecting us to come out and compete. I expect that from every player and especially from the young guys that want to show a lot and are full of energy.”

While newcomers may have to prove that “they are talented and are the future,” the more experienced players, like Bedoya himself, still need to show that they “still belong” in the national team. And solidarity is also a part of the package in Tuesday’s clash at Estadio Municipal de Leiria (3:45 pm ET | FS1, Univision, UniMás).

“I also know it is for a good cause, because they are trying to raise awareness and funds for the people who lost families in the tragedy of the fires here in Portugal,” said Bedoya. “I expect a good, competitive game.”

As the elder statesman of the team, much has been made in the lead-up to the match of Bedoya’s role as the tone-setter for the younger players and it’s one he’s embracing.

“I lead by example. I never take any opportunity with the national team for granted and it is always an honor to represent my country. I take it with both my hands and show the young guys what it takes. It is not enough just to get here, you have to fight for your spot and earn it. I try to make them feel comfortable and confident. At the end of the day, soccer should be fun: enjoy yourself, express yourself on the field and play your game.”

He may well remind his teammates of the 2014 World Cup match against Portugal in Brazil, where the US led until the dying moments only to concede a late goal set up by Cristiano Ronaldo, who will not feature in Tuesday's clash. The resulting draw would eventually help the US advance to the knockout stage ahead of the Portuguese on goal differential.

“We let in the second goal, which was very preventable. We could have easily won, but I thought it was a good and competitive game, so I expect no differences this time,” recalled Bedoya, the most capped player on the current US roster with 65 caps. “I’m looking forward to it.”