CHESTER, PA—The reality of the U.S. Men’s National Team failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup is still settling in across the many facets of American soccer.
A distraught Alejandro Bedoya is still making sense of it all and, for him, one of the parts that hurts the most comes on a personal level.
“I came home yesterday and saw my son. My wife came to the airport with my two kids and my son ran up to me and for me, family, that just took my mind off of everything for a little bit,” Bedoya said. “I had dreams of taking my son to the World Cup. He would’ve been three and a half years old by then and just to experience that with him, there was a lot of sadness, a lot of emotions after the game on Tuesday night, and that for me was kind of the most disheartening thing.”
“I always dreamed of having my son experience that with me and my family, and I let him down, I feel like,” Bedoya said. “Even though I didn’t partake in the game, as a team, it hits all of us really hard.”
Bedoya admitted what so many others have said in the last 48 hours as well in terms of letting down a country by failing to show up on Tuesday night in Couva, Trinidad and Tobago.
“We let our country down, we let our teammates down, we let our fans down, we let our families down and ourselves down,” Bedoya said. “It’s an utter disappointment. The first half was pretty embarrassing.”
Although he was on the bench and didn’t play in the game that decided the Americans’ fate, Bedoya still carried the same frustration everyone in the squad had by the time the results were settled throughout CONCACAF.
“It freaking sucks. For me to be on the bench and not take part of this game in a do-or-die situation, it really sucked,” Bedoya said. “There was a lot of emotions: Anger, disappointment, disgust. I was pissed I wasn’t part of it, obviously, with my competitiveness and being a passionate guy. Me sitting there watching the first half unfold, the way we stepped out on the field and the way we were going about things, I’m sure everyone watching, in a situation like that, it’s not what was expected.”
In the 48 hours since the deflating defeat at Ato Boldon Stadium, plenty of talking heads have presented different solutions as to what needs to happen next. From Bedoya’s perspective, the discourse is a good start to taking the sensible steps toward the future.
“There’s been a lot of noise obviously and a lot of hot takes out there, as there should be,” Bedoya said. “I think more pressure is what we need and it’s going to bring out the best of us in the future, not just for the players but for everyone involved in U.S. soccer from the grassroots level on down to the communities, the local coaches, local teams, developmental academies – everybody’s got to take a good hard, look in the mirror.”
Pennsylvania native Christian Pulisic is certainly going to be a part of that future, but the core of the next generation will have to be built in the coming years. In Bedoya’s eyes, they have a great leader in the 19-year-old, but the entire group has to develop in order for them to be a successful squad and challenge for a World Cup berth in 2022.
“Sure, there’s promise. There’s always some promise. I’ve always been hearing about the talent in the youth, but then you look a few years back and we haven’t qualified for two straight Olympics. So where’s that talent coming through,” Bedoya asked.
“So there’s a lot of youth coming up. Hopefully they mature to become the professionals that we all hope them to become to be. Pulisic is a beast, a monster,” Bedoya said. “It was so disheartening to see him so emotional after the game and I just told him, if anybody deserves to keep their head up and rise up, it’s him. If it wasn’t for him, who knows where we’d be right now? So hopefully guys like him can make it through because the past few years, a lot of those youth teams haven’t come through for us either.”