Alejandro Bedoya knows he’ll be on the plane. Now it’s a matter of whether he can secure a place on the field when the United States lines up for its World Cup opener in Brazil.
A good performance Saturday night in Jacksonville against Nigeria could go a long way in making that determination, with Bedoya featuring in one of three spots widely considered unsettled as coach Jurgen Klinsmann works out his eventual starting 11.
“I think all these [tuneup] games have been that way,” said Bedoya, whose soccer journey has taken him from Weston youth leagues to French club Nantes.
Said Fox Soccer analyst Brian McBride: “It’s a game that’s taken very seriously by the players. They know this is the last real impression they can make on the coach in a game setting.”
Bedoya, an attacking midfielder, started at left wing two weeks ago as the U.S. team beat Azerbaijan 2-0 in the first game of its three-game “sendoff series” before heading to Brazil. But he was left on the bench last Sunday as Brad Davis and Tampa-born teen Julian Green saw action.
Bedoya also can play on the right, but Longwood’s Graham Zusi seems to have that spot well locked up.
“My desire is just to get a role on the team, whatever it is,” Bedoya said.
If nothing else, though, Bedoya can be assured of making the trip.
Four years ago, he was one of the final cuts for the team that went to South Africa.
“I came in with a totally different mind-set,” he said. “I wasn’t just happy to be here and see what happens. I’m confident in my ability.”
Also unsettled are spots on a U.S. back line that has looked shaky at times, especially last Sunday against a Turkey team that wasn’t afraid to attack.
DaMarcus Beasley and Timmy Chandler are in a battle at left back, with Chandler coming off an error-prone game against Turkey. Right back also is open, though Fabian Johnson might have given himself a leg up after scoring Sunday’s first goal. Center backs Mike Besler and Geoff Cameron also are still trying to find chemistry, which could be strongly tested against attack-minded Nigeria.
“I think there’s a lot to get done and fine-tuned,” Klinsmann said.