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USA vs. Nicaragua, 2017 Gold Cup: Man of the match

Notching two assists, winning a penalty, and managing to make positive attacking contributions, it’s hard to vote against Alejandro Bedoya’s performance against Nicaragua.

Soccer: 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup-Nicaragua at USA David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

We give Alejandro Bedoya a fair amount of grief on this website. We are gathered here today, however, because on Saturday he was good. In fact, he was the best American player on the field against Nicaragua, which may or may not be saying something about a lot of other players on the team, but I digress. Bedoya was legitimately good on both sides of the ball in a must-win-by-three-goals scenario, and he deserves credit for it.

Typically, when you see Bedoya in the midfield, he’s there as someone who works hard and makes it hard for opposing midfields to move the ball around. He can be a competent attacker, but more often his value lies in his defense and his work rate. That part of his game was on display against Nicaragua, getting stuck into challenges and pressuring opposing players in possession. But Bedoya also played what might be his best game in attack for the United States. He combined in and around the box dangerously with Joe Corona, Dom Dwyer, and Kelyn Rowe, and he featured prominently in most threatening attacks the U.S. built on the night. It was his low, cut-back cross that found its way to Corona (courtesy of a nice little body fake by Dwyer to let the ball roll by) that ended up in the back of the net for the first American goal on the day.

The second American goal was almost entirely Bedoya’s handiwork. After intercepting the ball deep in Nicaraguan territory, his neat touch split the defense and found a streaking Kelyn Rowe.

Bedoya also won a penalty for the U.S., his cutback on a sliding defender causing an accidental handball in the area, and even though the penalty went to waste, Bedoya’s positive play and two assists on the night was eventually rewarded when Matt Miazga nodded Graham Zusi’s free kick into the back of the net, giving the Americans a three goal lead and tops in the group. It’s odd that a 3-0 win still isn’t very pretty, but Bedoya came out of this game looking as good as he ever has in a U.S. shirt.

Think someone else deserved Man of the Match? Let us know in the comments!