With the trend of top U.S. men’s players coming back to MLS, Alejandro Bedoya is an exception: A national-team starter who’s still in Europe and has no plans to move. I spoke Monday to Bedoya, who said he’s happy in France at Nantes, where he recently signed a new contract for three more seasons.
Bedoya wants to make it in Europe and eventually play in the Bundesliga or the Premier League, and he also said he wants to be a player that young Americans can look toward when they say they want to make it in Europe.
Nantes is currently in ninth place in Ligue 1 on 40 points, a comfortable eight points clear of the drop zone, but also 13 points out of a spot in European competition. Bedoya, who earned another start for the U.S. against Switzerland on Tuesday, has one goal in 25 games across all competitions this season after scoring six goals in all competitions a season ago.
Here are some more insider notes from the world of soccer:
I spoke with U.S. women’s coach Jill Ellis on Monday, and a few bits of news stood out. One, she has moved Carli Lloyd from a wide midfield position back to the central midfield during the current camp and plans to use her there in Saturday’s game against New Zealand. Two, captain Christie Rampone now has a sprained MCL, which means Julie Johnston will likely get the start again in the central defense.
And three, Ellis says she plans to decide on her final World Cup roster within days of the team’s April 6 closed-door friendly, also against New Zealand. That’s a bit sooner than many observers were expecting.
• Over the weekend, Freddy Adu signed a one-year contract with KuPS, a team in Finland. It’s Adu’s 11th team in 11 pro seasons, and I spoke about the signing with the chairman of KuPS, Ari Lahti. He said the club didn’t actually see Adu play in person before the signing but instead relied on videos.
Adu has the same agent as Stephen McCarthy, the former New England Revolution player who is now with KuPS, and that’s where the connection came. KuPS is located in Kuopio, the seventh-largest city in Finland, and the club averages around 2,500 fans a game.
Lahti said he was impressed by the media attention Adu’s arrival has gotten around the world, and he thinks Adu might be the biggest foreign signing in the Finnish league’s history. That remains to be seen. Adu hasn’t started a league game since he was with Philadelphia in 2012.
• On Monday, Germany announced that Steffi Jones would become its women’s national team coach in September 2016, taking over for Sylvia Neid after the Olympics. The announcement was a surprise, considering Maren Meinert has won two Under-20 World Cups coaching Germany.
Jones, who won a World Cup as a player in 2003, is German-American, the daughter of a German mother and a U.S. serviceman father. She was in charge of organizing the 2011 Women’s World Cup in Germany, which was viewed a successful event.
And while Steffi Jones is not related to the U.S.’s Jermaine Jones, they do know each other well.
They grew up in the same neighborhood in Frankfurt, and Jermaine told me he not only played soccer with Steffi as a kid, but she also was his baby-sitter.
Jermaine is also good friends with Steffi’s brother, Franky, a U.S. serviceman who tragically lost his legs in a land-mine incident in Iraq a few years ago. Saying he still has good memories of growing up with Steffi and Franky, Jermaine calls her “the Franz Beckenbauer of German women’s soccer.”
Re-living USA vs. Switzerland: 1994 World Cup
Eric Wynalda (sitting) and Roy Wegerle in the Silverdome locker room prior to taking on Switzerland in the 1994 World Cup.
Frank Klopas sits at his locker room prior to the USA's 1994 World Cup match against Switzerland. On the wall, the message is clear.
With Tab Ramos's and his own denim USA jersey draped above him, Roy Wegerle sits in the locker room prior to taking on Switzerland in the 1994 World Cup.
The USA starting lineup vs. Switzerland: (L-R Top) Cle Kooiman (4), Marcelo Balboa (17), Alexi Lalas (22), Mike Sorber (16), Earnie Stewart (8) and Tony Meola (1). (L-R Bottom) Eric Wynalda (11), Tab Ramos (9), John Harkes (6), Thomas Dooley (5) and Paul Caligiuri (20).
Alexi Lalas walks out of the tunnel and onto the Silverdome field, some 15 minutes from Birmingham, Michigan, where he was born.
Thomas Dooley challenges Alain Sutter in the USA's 1994 World Cup match vs. Switzerland.
John Harkes fends off Switzerland's Marc Hottiger.
Alexi Lalas controls the ball vs. Switzerland.
Alexi Lalas passes the ball upfield vs. Switzerland.
Marcelo Balboa tries a bicycle kick vs. Switzerland, foreshadowing his spectacular near make against Colombia in the next game that went just wide of the mark.
Earnie Stewart maneuvers by Yvan Quentin in the USA's 1-1 1994 World Cup draw vs. Switzerland.
Eric Wynalda (right) is mobbed after scoring off a stellar free kick, which tied the game at the time and ultimately led to the USA's first World Cup point in 44 years.