In 2006, Theo Walcott wore the label for England to much fanfare and debate.
Landon: Undoing Portugal in 2002
Heading into a World Cup, it’s not uncommon for a manager to pick a player that is seemingly too green or perhaps considered by the populace just “not ready” for the occasion. Typically the player–through lack of caps alone–does not grasp the magnitude of their surrounding. It goes without saying they are not burdened with leadership responsibilities either.
That’s exactly what the manager is looking for in the cliched “x-factor” role.
Comparably, it seems as if the United States has sank or swam with young, though perhaps more experienced, players as the staple writers of its recent World Cup diaries.
2002 saw a precocious–and thick-scalped–Landon Donovan drive to the hole with aplomb, even going nutmeg, against quality defenders and teams (Portugal, Mexico, and Germany.) Landy, after getting his first senior cap only a year earlier, was one of the top global stories for soccer’s top tournament in South Korea. DaMarcus Beasley, too, acquitted himself well.
In a regrettable 2006 campaign it was Clint Dempsey, who made his impression by personally issuing an arsenal of scissor-dribbles and step-overs. Those moves and his strike against Ghana threw the international spotlight on the Texan. Dempsey might have had two full years of qualifying games under his belt, but he was still only 23 when he made the World Cup charge.
Conversely, fleet-footed striker Eddie Johnson was unable to leave his mark in Germany in 2006 and is on the bubble for this year’s squad.
New Jersey’s very own Alejandro Bedoya seems poised to be one of the chosen youngsters for Bob Bradley’s crew bound for South Africa.
"On the come-up"
To hear Bedoya tell the story, his invitation to Camp Cupcake–his direct quote–in January of this year was more of a look-see. A hi, how-are-you nod for future involvement.
Well that’s not the script that got funded.
Bedoya, after a solid showing in his first senior camp and good play against Honduras, went Hollywood with an appearance in the USMNT measurement stick friendly against Holland in March. From there, the winger has continued his assault on a World Cup roster spot with his club team Orebro, notching a goal, an assist, and has he tells it, “a whole bunch of hockey assists too.”
Media types and die-hard fans alike are all pretty confident heading into tomorrow that Bedoya will be included in the “30” and that a few short weeks later, Bedoya’s luggage will be processed and earmarked for the baggage claim at Tambo International ….Johannesburg, South Africa.
TSG had the opportunity to chat recently with Boston College grad and quite frankly, it may have been the most fun interview we’ve done to date. Thanks and on to you, Alejandro Bedoya.
TSG: Good day Ale–actually, what time is it there?
Alejandro Bedoya: 3pm.
TSG: Did you just finish practice? How many do you have per day?
AB: Actually, day off today for us.
TSG: Alright, let’s get started. For many fans, you came out of nowhere this year. TSG saw you in January camp and was wondering why this was the first time we caught you on the field in a US practice jersey.
When did you know that Bob and US Soccer was looking at you for this cycle?
AB: Honestly, January camp was the beginning of it. First, to be called in at anytime is a rewarding honor.
But you know January, is you know, it’s called Camp Cupcake and I think they were just bringing me in to take a look. Anytime you get called in, whenever you get the chance, you just want to show them what you’ve got. You want to make an impression.