BRIAN SCIARETTA - Tuesday, March 9, 2010
This summer Northeastern University's Santiago Bedoya will travel to Sweden to go on trial with Orebro in the Swedish Allsvenskan, the same club where older brother Alejandro currently plays.
Bedoya, 21, recently finished his junior season at Northeastern where he was named to the All-CAA first team. His success during the 2009 season has come after his head coach Brian Ainscough recently converted Bedoya from left midfield to left back. It's a transition that Bedoya says he has unexpectedly enjoyed.
"My whole life I was actually an outside midfielder on the left," Bedoya told YA of his position change. "My coach just this last year actually has converted me to a left back and I've had a lot of success there. I never thought I'd be comfortable back there and I actually feel a lot more comfortable there. I think that will be the place for me if I am able to play at the next level. It just really worked out."
While college soccer has sometimes been criticized as a developmental path in preparing young American players for the professional game, Bedoya feels as if it has been a very good move for him personally.
"I definitely believe that college soccer has helped me," Bedoya discussed. "At least for me personally, it would have been a big leap to from youth to professional because there are just little things that I learned from my coach [at Northeastern]. I am only 5'8 and I am not the biggest guy but through college I have just been able to learn how to use my body. It definitely helps you adapt. I have had to change a lot of things and that's why it would have been difficult to go professional at a young age. I have developed a lot through college. "
Bedoya's style of play is built around his pace and athleticism. While he plays in the backline, he very much likes to move the ball forward and join in the attack.
"I definitely try to get involved in the play," Bedoya said of his style of play. "My coach is very offensive minded. We play four in the back. Being a former left mid, I kind of understand that role but I am always looking to do an overlapping run. One of my strengths is definitely my pace and stamina. I have also been working hard on my crosses the past year. So that when I make these overlapping runs it is not just a waste of a play and I can provide some good service."
Bedoya is scheduled to arrive at Orebro on July 23 and he will train with the club until August 6. Once there Santiago will join his brother Alejandro who is a first team starter with the club and is beginning to emerge as a contributor to the US national team.
Both Santiago and Alejandro were born in New Jersey to Colombian-born parents and were raised in Weston, Florida. The two brothers have always been very close and talk constantly despite living on different continents. Despite growing up together while excelling in the same sport, the two have rarely played together but Santiago says the chance to play with his brother at Orebro would be a great opportunity.
"We played together one year in high school but I wasn't really involved with that team so I wouldn't really consider that playing with my brother," Santiago described. "But playing with Alejandro would really be a dream-come-true because he would be there to help me no matter what and give me advice. It would help bring out the best in me. "
Despite Alejandro's success at Orebro, Santiago says that the opportunity to go on a trial for the same club as his brother was largely a matter of coincidence. While he is unsure of the exact specifics as who discovered him, Santiago knows that Alejandro was not involved in the process.
"I'm not sure who, but someone was actually at one of my college games for Northeastern and they sent some emails to [Orebro's] sporting director but it was a coincidence that it was Alejandro's brother," Bedoya recalled of how the opportunity with Orebro arose. "My brother was actually in the dark about this until just last week when he found out about it in an article. He didn't have any influence on it."
Bedoya says that turning professional is an important goal for him. The opportunity at Orebro will give him an opportunity to see exactly how far he has developed.
"It's going to be a test to see where I stand and see if I am prepared to play over there or if I need another year to develop," Bedoya said of the opportunity with Orebro.
Bedoya said that besides Orebro, there are other options he wants to consider. The first is to return to Northeastern and earn his college degree while leading the Huskies during his senior season. Bedoya is also open to starting his professional career domestically.
"I am also open to the possibility to playing in the States for a few years too to develop me further," said of his options. "MLS is something I don't look down on."
Between now and his trial in Sweden, Santiago is going to be intently following his brother's career in the upcoming months. Following a solid performance against world-power Holland last week, Alejandro has found himself with a chance to make the 2010 USA World Cup roster. Santiago is very excited about his brother's emergence with the national team and his increasing prospects to play at the sport's biggest stage this summer.
"Oh man, that would be absolutely unbelievable. If that happened and he made the team, I would definitely have to find some tickets to South Africa," he concluded.