Press Conference / Signings

Transcript and video: Alejandro Bedoya introductory press conference

Photo: Courtesy of Philadelphia Union

Note: Questions have been paraphrased

Earnie Stewart’s opening statement

Earnie Stewart: First of all, thanks for coming down, good morning.

Jim elaborated on it last week already, but obviously we’re here for the signing and unveiling of Alejandro Bedoya, that joins the Philadelphia Union. Very pleased as the Philadelphia Union that he’s chosen for us. I think he brings a lot of experience, excitement, being overseas a lot. He’s somebody that we can add to our core group right now that has that experience to bring us over the line. But most and foremost, he checks all those boxes that we believe a player of the Philadelphia Union has to have. He has certain assets that we can definitely use going towards the playoffs. I’d like to say, welcome Alejandro.

Two why questions: Why come back now [to the US and MLS] and why come to Philadelphia?

Alejandro Bedoya: Why not? Right? That’s a simple answer. I’ve been in Europe almost nine years, I had a baby born who is 16 months old now, so it’s a different situation. I think the bigger picture here is not just me coming back, but what this organization is doing, where it’s heading. Bringing in Earnie [Stewart], Jim [Curtin] being here, Chris [Albright]. Everybody who is part of the club, the direction they’re going in is something I bought into and I wanted to be a part of.

So the first interest, when it came a year ago, maybe I wasn’t quite ready to come back. But it was always in the back of my mind. I wanted to be back in the states. I’ve always had that, wanting to be a part of MLS. And I thought that, for me, Philly was probably the best fit with everything that they’re doing. With what they’re putting in place here. And now, being able to be back and play with old friends and teammates like Mo [Edu] and Charlie [Davies] and stuff like that, I think it makes it a lot of fun, really fun. And I’m really looking forward to this next challenge. Because it is going to be a challenge, you know.

There’s a lot of factors that go into it. Family, being back in the states. For my family, it’s their first grandkid, my son. So being able to be part of those moments. There are bigger things here than soccer, too. In terms of soccer, I’ve already met the guys, been part of the group. I think it’s a great group of guys. Hopefully I can help them make a push into the playoffs, and make a run into the playoffs. I’m here for three and a half years, and I hope I can make a big difference and pay Philly the respect back that they’ve given me.

What was the transfer process like?

You want to be really honest? [laughs] Everybody knows I’ve been pretty vocal about MLS and things like that. It’s been more confusing and complicated than it really needed to be, but like I said, when I first met Jim and Chris in Nantes when they were scouting Fernando Aristeguieta, who they were able to bring here, ever since they knew about my interest about coming back. And I think they pursued that for the past year, and I’m forever grateful for this opportunity that they’ve given me, that Earnie has given me as well, and the whole Philly organization.

And I’ve mentioned in the past that I’ve always wanted to come back and that was always there. But obviously with the MLS regulations and all this stuff that goes on [waves hands], it wasn’t the simplest of processes.

But I’m here now and I couldn’t be happier.

There are going to be people who say you should’ve stayed in Europe at this point in your career. Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley got the same criticism. Do you have thoughts about that line of critique?

I don’t care what people say. They don’t speak for me, for my family, what goes on behind the scenes. All I can say to them is that I went over to Europe straight from college. I did my thing there, was there almost nine years, climbed the ladder, so to speak. I was able to always be performing on good teams in one of the best leagues in Europe. I [air quotes] challenged myself [end air quotes] if that satisfies fans or whatever. I was a consistent player on every team I was a part of. Glasgow Rangers aside, there were different circumstances there that didn’t allow me to do that.

But I was very humbled, and it was amazing to see the responses I got when I said it was my Philly move and I was moving away from Europe. You see every club that I’ve been a part of, I’ve been blessed to have made a difference. And that really humbled me and I think wherever I’ve been, I’ve met the challenge in front of me. I think there’ve been a handful, not more than ten Americans that have been playing consistently for a top team in Europe in a top league. And I’ve been doing that.

So for people that want to say I’ve been taking the [air quotes] easy way [end air quotes] or whatever they say, coming back to MLS… that’s a lot of B.S. [bullshoopadoop] because I’ve done the hard stuff and I’ve been able to perform in Europe in a top club like Nantes in one of the best leagues. And I’m coming here for a bunch of different reasons and one of them now is another new challenge that’s in front of me: Being a part of this Philly team and taking them into the playoffs and making a run.

You mentioned having guys here that you knew before. How important was it for your decision to come here to have guys like Mo or Chris Pontius here?

The first thing is feeling that you’re wanted by somebody, or that you’re in somebody’s plans. And obviously these guys, Jim and Chris and Earnie, made me feel that way. And then the other aspect is, the off-the-field stuff matters a lot. I knew having Mo and Chris Pontius, and when I found out about Charlie Davies… he called, FaceTimed me when I was in Paris right after I got my medical, and he was like, ‘You wouldn’t believe what’s going on right now.’ And I was like, [incredulous] ‘What?’ and he said, ‘I might be coming to Philly!’ And we were just… wow.

It’s going to be amazing to have these friendships that we’ve had for a long time and these bonds off the field, I hope that we can translate off-the-field into on-the-field and show for the league and this club, and give something back to the fans. It definitely played a key role. Like I said, Philly was definitely the spot where I wanted to end up, with family close by. I was born in, grew up in [New] Jersey, so having them be able to come here makes a difference, yeah.

Similar question to Jim Curtin, how important was having that base of guys that knew Alejandro here for going after him?

Jim Curtin: Earnie’s now laid a foundation of good young players, we have a new training facility, we have a level of attention to detail at our club that we’ve never had before on the little details, the additions of guys traveling in suits to the details of treating our field like it’s a cathedral and keeping people off of it. Little things like that that go a long way. And now Earnie, myself, and Chris, we’d like to thank Jay Sugarman for taking that next step and a declaration by bringing in a player of Alejandro’s character that raises the bar again for us.

On the field, I have no concerns with Alejandro. The pressure now is on the players, the staff, myself to get him acclimated. He just has to go out on the field and play. Because he is a special player. We’re very happy to have him onboard. He’s a guy that makes everyone’s job easier on the field. He’s a guy that’s been in big games, played in pressure situations, has experience, wants the ball in tight spots, wants the ball in the difficult places to turn and go at defenses, make them backpedal. So, again, as a team now, everybody just has to do their part to make Alejandro feel welcome. And Alejandro just has to play. There’s no pressure on him.

Ale, let’s say you’re coaching a team and you have a big whiteboard in the locker room. And you can pick the starting eleven and you can pick any eleven players that you want, but you’re also part of the team and you can pick your formation and your best position on the field. Where would you put yourself?

Bedoya: I really don’t have a concrete answer to that. As much as you’d like to hear me say that I play a certain position, a preferred position. I think I’ve mentioned it before: I can play behind a striker, in a 4-3-3 as a No. 8… I got all these tweets saying that’s what I posted a long time ago or whatever [wry smile].

But throughout my career in Europe, and even with the national team, I’ve always been a versatile player. So I’m comfortable playing wherever Jim feels that I need to play. And I’m here to help the team out in any way that I can. So whether it’s playing out wide, on the right or the left, or behind the striker, or No. 8 or whatever it is, it doesn’t matter to me. I’m going to go out on the field and do my best to help the team win.

Could you talk about the whole process: How many teams were interested in you and were there a lot of teams you were considering? 

From MLS? There were three teams interested. The whole process took longer than expected. I think everybody knows that Chicago [Fire] reached out to me. They were the number one [in the allocation order]. Had a conversation with their coach [Veljko Paunovic]. Honestly, I thought I was going there for sure. But with MLS there are a lot of twists and turns and that didn’t work out for whatever reason. And I think Columbus [Crew] was in there was well. And at the end of the day, I’m happy that I ended up in Philly because that’s where I wanted to be. At the end of the day, it was a lot more complicated and confusing than it needed to be.

With TAM [Targeted Allocation Money] and, whatever it’s called, GAM [General Allocation Money]… throw in my buddies SAM and CAM [not real MLS currency… yet] and you get me or something [laughs]. It was quite the process, but there were like, three different teams in there.

You spoke about Fernando Aristeguieta, but do you have a general sense of what people in France and Scandinavia think about MLS and where it is right now?

With the new deals, the Eurosport [TV] deals [to show MLS], I know a lot more guys are watching the games. They show, I think, four games every weekend. So it’s easy access to watch the games. We talk about it. MLS is growing, and I’ve always wanted to be part of the growth. And I’m here now.

And it definitely has the abilities to be one of the top leagues in the world. Looking back on my time in Europe, a lot of guys love American TV series, American movies, who wouldn’t want to live and play in the states. To answer your question — I don’t know, kinda, what you wanted me to answer — but I think the league is attractive to a lot of these players in Europe.

When you played in Copa America here in Philadelphia, what was that like?

Bedoya: It was awesome playing in front of the Eagles stadium. What’s it called, Lincoln Financial Field? I don’t want to say the wrong sponsor or something. It was awesome. That game was a very good game from us. To play against Paraguay, then we went a man down and we definitely got the crowd to get into it. I remember I was gassed, but when I came out — I was sick, I didn’t know I was going to play that game, but I gave it my all, but in the end I had to come out — just seeing Jurgen [Klinsmann] on the bench trying to get the fans up, and they really pushed us over to get that win. So definitely Philly has a good soccer crowd.

13 Comments

  1. Jersey number 11? What number is Herbers switching to?

  2. Zizouisgod says:

    Great stuff, can’t wait to see him in action.

  3. Old Soccer Coach says:

    My judgment is heavily influenced by my own hopes I freely grant. In watching him reply to the question about his position, I got the impression he hinted early at #8, and then covered with the full catalogue of everything but Striker or defense.

  4. el Pachyderm says:

    Likely Bedoya will speak his mind… I’m okay with that.
    .

    • pragmatist says:

      And apparently, if you’re not okay with that, he doesn’t care.
      .
      He could become a very beloved figure in this town.

    • Jim Presti says:

      It’s up to Bedoya, other players, and even the Union staff to consistently criticize the mechanisms in this league. Stewart has done it, Curtin has done it, and now a player who is willing to. Only way to effect meaningful change to roster restrictions is if coaches, TDs, and players push the ownership group together.

      • agreed. those pre-screened, on-air discussions Garber has with Lalas a couple times a year are not enough to bring about change. got to come from players on up.

      • Jim Presti says:

        Well, Garber IS the problem. So anything he said his for his benefit and the benefit for the ownership group and SUM. The more the players, coaches, and TDs voice their frustration, the more opportunity there is for certain mechanisms to fall away.

    • I like it. It’ll be feisty pairing in the middle there with Barnetta and Bedoya.

  5. Lucky Striker says:

    Welcome Ale ! No pressure or anything……..

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