Daniel Bedoya completed a long-held ambition in City Blue on Wednesday night when New York City FC defeated North Carolina FC in the fourth round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.
The match was played at St. John's University’s Belson Stadium. Familiar territory for Bedoya: the same pitch he began his collegiate soccer career when the Queens native attended the university for two years, appearing in 36 matches.
“St. Johns was good to me, it was good to be back. I saw the coach, who was very happy to see me, he was proud of me. I was happy to see him, it was just good to be back,” Bedoya said.
The decision to attend the university came easily for Bedoya, after earning a scholarship to play soccer for the Red Storm and the proximity to his childhood home. While the decision to offer him the scholarship was also one that St. John's Men's Soccer Coach, Dr. David Masur didn't think twice about.
“I think Danny came in as a local soccer legend and it was before New York City FC had their academy set up so Danny had played in a local Queens league and in High School, he did an extraordinary job and we were just excited to get him," said Masur. "A really multi-talented player who could shoot, dribble, cross… he had an extreme quickness and alertness on the ball and he gave us a tremendous amount of quality.”
Bedoya left the university in 2013 to pursue a professional career in soccer.
"He left a little bit early, from us. He wanted to become a pro and I’m glad to see that he has been able to fulfill that. He’s worked really hard, he loves soccer, and has great passion so I’m excited for him," Masur told NYCFC.com, "I’m proud that he has been able to follow his heart and his passion to make it to such a high level.”
The midfielder went on to sign with the New York Red Bulls II, a USL team. He spent over two seasons with the club before opting to play for the Long Island Rough Riders, NYCFC’s PDL Affiliate.
He made 21 appearances for the Rough Riders, where he caught the attention of NYCFC’s coaching staff. The decision to sign Bedoya came after he showcased his skills against the first-team in a scrimmage match last summer.
NYCFC signed Bedoya on August 9, 2018. He had yet to make his appearance on the pitch for the club. Until Wednesday night, in his home borough.
“I knew it was going to come someday, but I’m glad it did on the day with those fans and in my city,” he said.
Bedoya’s MLS debut came not only in his hometown of Queens but on the pitch where he began his soccer career at St. Johns University. Also, where he decided to pursue his dream of playing soccer professionally. Although the decision to leave St. Johns didn’t come easily, it definitely paid off.
He was back at Belson Stadium, in front of fans who were screaming his name, but this time he had New York City on his back representing the NYCFC crest.
“Just being able to make a professional debut for such a big club...” continued Bedoya, “I didn’t expect everybody to be so happy for my moment.”
Although it was a big night for Bedoya himself, he retains that it’s not all about his story… it’s about the team and the historic night they all shared.
“It’s not just about me coming back to St. John's, it’s about the team getting our first US Open Cup win,” he said. “Just making sure we set a standard coming in we’re going to do our job, work, and win. Move on to the next game and give it our all.”
It was night that will go down in NYCFC history, but also one that St. John's University and the borough of Queens will hold dear to their hearts for a long time coming.
“I think it’s really important, I think it’s really nice. It’s another way that New York City FC embraces their community," said Masur.
New York City FC won its first ever US Open Cup win to advance to the Round of 16 where they’ll take on D.C. United at Audi Field next Wednesday.