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On the Record

Here's What They're Saying About Alejandro Bedoya

With a strong showing at the World Cup, a new contract with Ligue 1 side Nantes, and a No. 4 ranking in the ASN 100, Alejandro Bedoya is riding a wave of good news. Here's a 360-degree perspective.
BY Laura Greene Posted
February 05, 2015
2:04 PM
JANUARY 2015 FELT LIKE a transfer window in reverse, with a number of American players returning to the United States following spells with European sides.

Jozy Altidore, Sacha Kljestan, Mix Diskerud, Juan Agudelo, Michael Stephens, and Brek Shea are all recent returnees to Major League Soccer, following a trail blazed by influential national teamers Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley.

Alejandro Bedoya was rumored to be among the homecoming players this winter, as his contract had entered its final 18 months with Ligue 1 side FC Nantes.

“We had discussions with Nantes on a new contract but we couldn’t reach an agreement” the 27-year-old’s agent, Lyle Yorks, told Goal.com on October 28. “We will explore options with him in January and he could move then or in the summer.”

However, on February 3, Les Canaris announced the completion of Bedoya’s contract extension, a deal that will keep him at Stade de la Beaujoire until the end of the 2018-19 campaign.

Having played in Sweden (Orebro SK and Helsingborgs IF), Scotland (Glasgow Rangers), and now France, Bedoya has never represented an MLS team. In September 2014, he explained his reasoning on FIFA.com.

“I want to grow as a player and as a person, and going abroad and understanding the culture and language gives me that chance. In America you can get overcome with the idea that it’s the best place in the world, and you forget to open your eyes and look around.”

In this month’s On the Record, we reflect on Bedoya’s time at Nantes and give you the lowdown on how the U.S. international with Colombian roots has settled in and been received in Pays de la Loire.

After signing for Michel Der Zakarian’s side on August 9, 2013, the Englewood, New Jersey, native did not have to wait long for his debut, making a 39-minute substitute appearance against FC Lorient on August 18.

Seven days later, the versatile midfielder made his home debut against none other than reigning league champions Paris Saint-Germain. In Der Zakarian’s starting XI, Bedoya, deployed on the right wing in a 3-5-2 formation, lined up against a PSG side bulging at the seams with big names that included Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani, Javier Pastore, and Ezequiel Lavezzi.

Despite being on the wrong end of a 2-1 scoreline, Bedoya impressed.

“For me, unless disallowed by Michel Der Zakarian, after the match against PSG we found our No. 10," club chairman Waldemar Kita told Francetvinfo.fr on August 27. "It's Alejandro Bedoya. He is smart, fast and has a very good reading of the game.”

The following day, Der Zakarian added to the praise: “He [Bedoya] is able to keep the ball, change tempo. He just plays. He is smart."

Quotes from the Armenian manager also appeared on FCNantes.com: “He has the capabilities. Now it must be repeated. He must be consistent. But that applies to everyone. Everyone needs to increase their level. But it's true, against Paris, Alejandro played just about all of his game, he gives a great ball to Vincent Bessat, he has presence in front of goal ... he showed a range of qualities. Now, we must see this in all matches.”

Bedoya went on to start Nantes’ next three fixtures, used both at right wing and in attacking midfield positions, before being left out of Der Zakarian’s squad for two of its next three games.

However, in a nine-minute substitute appearance against Ajaccio on October 19, Bedoya registered his first goal for Nantes, a gamewinning strike in a 1-0 win.

Then this happened.

“After every victory, I sing the ‘I Believe That We Will Win’ song, which started when I scored my first goal for Nantes," Bedoya later told EightbyEightmagazine. "Normally, after every victory somebody sings a song with the fans and that was just what popped into my head was that song.”

“I Believe That We Will Win” is now heard whenever Nantes triumphs—taken on by club supporters as its unofficial victory salute.

Following the Ajaccio game, a Ligue1.com article opened with this: “FC Nantes are the surprise of the French season so far, and the form of their American import Alejandro Bedoya is one reason why Les Canaris are chirping again.”

“He's settled in very well," Der Zakarian went on to say in the report. "He is technically excellent and is also prepared to work for the good of the team. His movement is always intelligent and he makes the right decisions.”

Bedoya later told the Ligue 1 show on BeInSport: "Yeah, I'd say I'm pretty satisfied with the way things are going so far. It's been a bit hectic, my transition over here, in terms of a lot of games. My first start came against PSG. What better way to start off my campaign here."

On the topic of Der Zakarian, Bedoya added: "From the beginning he has given me confidence, and he has confidence to put me in certain positions in certain situations. I think that's always a good thing. Even though he can't speak English and I can't speak French our relationship is pretty good. We manage to have some laughs and joke around in some way. I don't know how we do it, in sign language or just football talk."

Bedoya found the back of the net once again in the Coupe de la Ligue, against FC Lorient on October 29, and was on the bench just once in his side’s next 13 Ligue 1 ties. He bagged an assist against FC Girondins de Bordeaux on November 10and back-to-back goals against FC Valenciennes and Marseille on December 3 and 6, respectively.

Bedoya’s Man of the Match performance against Valenciennes earned further praise on Ligue1.com: “USA international Alejandro Bedoya has emerged as a crucial part of coach Michel Der Zakarian's plans this season, and he underlined exactly why when he cut in from the right and unleashed a powerful shot from 20 meters that deflected off Benjamin Angoua's head and past Nicolas Penneteau.”

In the final 15 games of the season Bedoya grabbed another two goals and turned in six full 90-minute performances as the 2013-14 campaign came to a close. Next up: the 2014 World Cup.

Bedoya featured in all four games for the U.S. men’s national team in Brazil and, later, FIFA.com reflected on his performances for the United States men’s senior team: “His performances in the summer of 2014 put Bedoya on the map. A roving presence in midfield, his technique is superb for such a hard worker. U.S. fans, who travelled to Brazil in waves and tuned in in record numbers to watch on TV back home, took this relative newcomer to their hearts. ‘I was walking around New York City after the World Cup, such a huge place, and someone shouted out ‘‘Hey Bedoya,’’ he said. “I was shocked. It’s so humbling.’ ”

NYC ! #usmnt #1N1T #usa

A photo posted by Cameron ???????? Geoff (@geoffcameron) on

Bedoya went straight back into Der Zakarian’s lineup for the first game of the 2014-15 Ligue 1 season, a match against RSC Lens on August 9. Out of the next 15 games, he went gave two 90-minute performances, started four additional fixtures, was subbed on five times, and was unused for four.

Bedoya discussed the World Cup on the U.S. Soccer Federation's site on November 11: “Two-thousand fourteen is a year I will never forget. It’s been crazy to think that I‘ve been able to solidified myself in Nantes and then be with the national team and play in the World Cup—which was my dream as a kid. Three years ago I wasn’t even part of the national team. Knowing that now all of my hard work and dedication has paid off and my commitment paid off to get to a World Cup, and then playing in it, it’s been very special.”

Five days later, it was announced that Bedoya was a finalist for U.S. Soccer’s Male Athlete of the Year, alongside Kyle Beckerman, Clint Dempsey, Fabian Johnson, Jermaine Jones, and eventual winner Tim Howard. Back in France, however, Bedoya was in and out of Der Zakarian’s side. A goal against Paris Saint-Germain at Parc des Princes on December 6—well, that changed everything.

Nantes’ opening goal was cancelled out by two strikes from (who else?) Ibrahimovic but Bedoya remained in good spirits, posting on his Facebook page: “Shame about the loss to PSG but happy to have opened my scoring account in Ligue 1 this season in Paris. And you know I had to add a little bit of a salsa dance to that goal! Thought I could maybe steal the show but some guy named Zlatan decided to.”

This analysis followed on Ligue1.com: “Bedoya's post-World Cup experience was something of a let-down. The attacking midfielder was frequently left on the bench as Nantes enjoyed a fine start to the current campaign, but his fortunes have changed since his stunning goal away to Paris Saint-Germain.”

Bedoya added: “The reality is I haven't had that much of a break so you feel tired here and there. It is how it is, we're not robots. But after that goal against PSG—I hadn't been playing that much, before I'd been playing more as a sub—things turned. It's amazing what a goal can do for someone's confidence, right?"

After his 90-minute, golazo-scoring appearance against PSG, Bedoya went the full 90 in Nantes next game against Bordeaux, bagging an assist for Jordan Veretout in the 2-1 win.

He also started his side’s next two games, ahead of wrapping things up for the winter break.

Named Nantes’ Player of the Month in December, Bedoya was name-checked as a fan favourite in Get French Football News on December 27: “Der Zakarian’s tactical nous this year has been nothing short of astounding. Switching fluidly between a 4-4-2/4-1-4-1 with the wings pushed forward to create space behind the strikers and a 4-2-3-1, the fluidity and variety of looks in attack that Nantes have displayed is truly remarkable for the mix of freedom granted the attacking players, whose hard work has became its own reward. Neither Serge Gakpe nor Alejandro Bedoya had previously been considered the grafting type, but both the Togolese and the American have become fan favorites, working hard on the wings, along with Stuttgart loanee Johan Audel.” After making two appearances in both the Coupe de la Ligue and Coupe de France over the winter period, the Ligue 1 season restarted on January 11, with Bedoya playing a full 90 minutes against FC Metz and 86 minutes against AS Monaco before being dropped to the bench for a January 24 fixture against Montpellier.

Returning to the side on January 31, Bedoya received 18 minutes of game time in Nantes’ most recent outing, a 1-1 draw with LOSC Lille.

Now, new contract in hand and 54 games (in all competitions) into his career at Nantes, Bedoya stands out as one to monitor closely as he continues to progress in Europe.

Coming up soon on Nantes schedule: Zlatan and Co. in the Coupe de France on February 11. We’ll be watching.

Laura Greene is a frequent ASN contributor. Please follow her on Twitter.

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