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CHESTER, Pa. â€” For Alejandro Bedoya, the pain in Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday proved to be double.
Not only was he in Ato Boldon Stadium as the US national teamâ€™s World Cup hopes evaporated in crushing fashion, he had to watch from the sidelines as the longtime USMNT contributor, perhaps surprisingly to some, didnâ€™t get into a game where all the team needed was a draw.
â€œIt freaking sucks,â€� the Union captain told Philadelphia reporters Thursday. â€œFor me to be on the bench and not take part of this game in a do-or-die situation, it really sucked. There was a lot of emotions: anger, disappointment, disgust. I was pissed I wasnâ€™t part of it, obviously, with my competitiveness and being a passionate guy.
â€œYou can say whatever you want â€“ Iâ€™m not the most skillful, not the guy thatâ€™s going to do stepovers, go 1-v-1. But for me sitting on the bench, watching the guys not really getting stuck in and that I didnâ€™t feel that proper energy out on the field â€“ we were kind of complacent. It was lethargic. â€¦ We got ourselves in a bad situation and paid the price for it.â€�
Bedoya said â€œthe most disappointing part of it allâ€� was how sharp the Americans were Friday night in a 4-0 home dismantling of Panama, a game in which the Union midfielder played the final 11 minutes to help close it out. That win reminded Bedoya of how well the USMNT has always played with â€œour backs against the wall,â€� and gave him a lot of confidence on the flight to Trinidad.
Itâ€™s still hard to fathom how it all then fell apart.
â€œWe let our country down, we let our teammates down, we let our families down, and we let ourselves down,â€� Bedoya said. â€œItâ€™s an utter disappointment. The first half was pretty embarrassing.â€�
Considering the emotions and craziness of Tuesdayâ€™s 2-1 loss â€“ which was made even crazier, he said, by hearing staffers and media members shout out the Honduras and Panama scores as the doomsday scenario began to set in â€“ Bedoya hasnâ€™t thought too much yet about what the World Cup qualifying failure might do for the sport in this country, although he did say that everyone involved with US Soccer â€œhas to take a good, hard look in the mirror.â€�
He also isnâ€™t entirely sure what comes next for a 30-year-old player like himself who would have been in a good position to play in his second straight World Cup had the US qualified for Russia 2018.
â€œIâ€™ll be a lot older in five years, so I donâ€™t know what the future brings,â€� he said. â€œBut for me, whenever I step over those white lines, I just give it my all and all Iâ€™ve got, and thatâ€™s the same for country. Whatever happens now, Iâ€™ll just sit back and do whatâ€™s best for the Union and see what happens with US Soccer and where we go from here.â€�
But when asked if that game, in any way, might take his mind off the USMNT heartbreak, Bedoya said thereâ€™s only one thing thatâ€™s been able to do that.
â€œMy 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,â€� he said. â€œI had dreams of taking my son to the World Cup. He would have 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. For me, that was kind of the most disheartening thing. I always dreamed of having my son experience that with me and my family â€” and I let him down, I feel like.â€�