There are six finalists for U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year. We make the case for every nominee: Jermaine Jones was the midfield engine, while Kyle Beckerman brought it all together and Clint Dempsey is not just the captain, but the goalscorer too. Then there is Fabian Johnson, Mr. Everything.
Alejandro Bedoya was only once involved in the United States youth teams. It was at the U-23 level, but he didn't even make the 2008 Olympic team. He was a good player at Boston College, but he wasn't a Hermann Trophy finalists. He didn't even get a deal with a big club to begin with, joining little ol' Orebro in Sweden after his senior year of college.
And yet here he is, arguably the most consistent player that the U.S. had in 2014.
There was no a single match in 2014 that Bedoya was the Americans' best player on the pitch, but he was almost always one of the best three or four players on the pitch. That kind of consistency is incredible seeing as he rarely had the same role. Jurgen Klinsmann used him as an attacking, touchline hugging winger one match and a shuttling midfielder in a diamond the next. He would ask him to cover for a fullback, then get forward and cut in. Bedoya was even charged with playing as a central midfielder at times.
Basically anything the U.S. needed done in the midfield, Bedoya would do and he would do it well. He was never spectacular, but he was always solid and dependable.
For a team that sees so many players rise and fall, solid and dependable is not something to be overlooked. Ever since moving to Nantes in the summer of 2013, he has been a regular for the Ligue 1 club. His form has remained consistent and every time the U.S. has called him in, he has done his job. Consider how many Americans you can say that about.
In a year in which players have gotten playing time, then seen it disappear, moved clubs and struggled, gone through terrible runs of form or struggled with injuries, Bedoya has never had that problem. He's played for club and country, he's played well and he's been a positive contributor at every turn. Not bad for a guy who was an afterthought for so many years.
No player has made a bigger leap in 2014 than Bedoya, and that has him in the running for U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year.