Until a few months ago, Alejandro Bedoya was largely anonymous. Heck, even Google had barely heard of the midfielder.
A quick search for the five-foot, 10-inch footballer on the Internet giant's Trends feature reveals a virtually flat line. There's the briefest of blips last July when the former Boston College Eagle tallied two goals for the Oberbro SK side he joined after his senior season. Then nothing -- a player tolling in obscurity -- until December 2009 when United States Men's National Team manager Bob Bradley called the 22 year old into the American's January camp.
The month-long training session traditionally highlights new and emerging talents, but at the Home Depot Center and then again against the Netherlands in March, Bedoya proved that despite the lack of attention he's received, he's more than just another kid hoping for a cap in the Red, White, and Blue.
The Miami, Florida native deserves a spot on the 23-man World Cup roster.
Making the squad would be a shocking development, one that was unthinkable just six months prior, but Bedoya's shown enough in limited time to warrant the chance. He came on in the 61st minute of the match against Honduras and looked solid despite playing on a 10-man side featuring players with whom he was unfamiliar.
The midfielder, who took part in qualification for the Olympics but didn't make the squad that traveled to Beijing, was more impressive against the Netherlands. Again, he took the pitch after the hour mark but shined in 30 minutes. Bedoya can play both sides of the pitch (he's carved out a space on the left of Oberbro's starting XI) and displays tactical awareness wherever he finds himself on the field. He consistently makes wonderful runs with and without the ball -- he and Michael Bradley played a lovely one-two around the Dutch defense -- but his American teammates need more time to spot his forays. This fact was obvious against the Dutch. In the 78th minute, Bedoya charged into the box of the world's third-best side a step ahead of his marker and could have equalized... if only Eddie Johnson had seen his wide-open teammate.
Given time, like say during a one-month pre-World Cup training camp, these communication issues would resolve themselves.
Of course, Bedoya's inclusion will mean a worthy candidate misses out. Despite a rash of knocks, the American midfield remains the squad's deepest position. Landon Donovan, and Clint Dempsey are locks to make the team. Stuart Holden was close to booking his ticket but fractured his leg against the Dutch. While he should recover in time for the World Cup, it remains to be seen if his form returns as well. Jose Torres failed to impress against the Netherlands. While he seems better suited to the middle of the pitch, Bradley has employed the Pachuca midfielder mainly out wide in an attempt to find space for his creativity.
DaMarcus Beasley is playing himself back into form, but it might be too little, too late. Robbie Rogers is on the outside looking in but could still figure into the mix. Throw in Michael Bradley, Benny Feilhaber, Ricardo Clark, Maurice Edu, and, possibly Jermaine Jones and it's clear the U.S. manager has some tough choices to make (although those five and Bedoya don't play the same position.)
The sterling form of Oberbro's midfielder increases the difficulty level of the coach's decision but there needs to be a place for Bedoya. Assuming Charlie Davies doesn't return in time, it's likely either Landon Donovan or Clint Dempsey will trade his wide role for that second striker spot. While slotting Bedoya into the starting line up would be too much of a Cinderella story, the U.S. needs depth out wide. He's proven he can perform this function to perfection and the ability to jump in on either side helps his case immensely. The two-time Hermann Trophy semifinalist can inject a change of pace late in the match. Additionally, don't expect England, Slovenia, and Algeria to be familiar with an unknown quantity American fans barely know. The U.S. needs every advantage they can get, and the midfielder provides a couple.
With just two caps to his name, Bedoya will be the most inexperienced international player on the roster. His greenness in Red, White, and Blue, however, won't be unprecedented. Beasley and Pablo Mastroeni both made the 2002 World Cup team after appearing in fewer than 10 matches for their country. The Rangers' midfielder played in all three group stage games, terrorizing Portugal, South Korea, and Poland on the flank.
A hungry young winger, holding his coming out party on the world's biggest stage? Can you say déjà vu?
Noah Davis covers the United States Men's National Team for Goal.com and will be reporting from the World Cup in South Africa.