Queens native Bedoya is NYCFC’s latest hometown hero

When New York City FC scrimmaged the Long Island Rough Riders last month, Daniel Bedoya knew it might be his last chance to prove himself to an MLS club.

What most saw as a simple scrimmage, Bedoya saw as an opportunity. Sure enough, last Thursday NYCFC signed Bedoya, 24, to a free-agent contract.

“I feel very proud to represent Queens, being one of the players from NYCFC who comes from the five boroughs,” he said to the media after training on Wednesday. “I’m very proud and happy about that.”

Bedoya moved to Queens from Colombia when he was eight-years-old, and has lived there since. The midfielder played two years at St. John’s University and was a member of the New York Red Bulls Academy. He played in 25 matches for the Red Bulls’ United Soccer League affiliate Red Bulls II.

His arrival at NYCFC was anything but a given. Bedoya was nearly out of soccer before joining Long Island in the USL’s Pro Development League (PDL) over a year ago. He also worked for a year as a coach in David Villa’s “DV7 academy” and was on trial with NYCFC for two weeks before signing.

“It’s been really tough, going on a lot of trials, being rejected by a lot of teams and coaches, them telling me they like me, but there’s no spot for me,” he said. “I never gave up. But two days before the scrimmage I was thinking about my soccer career, where it would take me and where I would go next. So I knew I had to take advantage of the opportunity to play the scrimmage and show myself. And I’m very thankful for that.”

Bedoya hasn’t seen any minutes yet, and isn’t likely to make the lineup in Saturday’s match at the Philadelphia Union. He could add another chapter to his story, however, if he can find his way onto the 18-man lineup against the Red Bulls next Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium.

“It would mean a lot because I came from there,” Bedoya said. “And I do wish them luck, but I’m on a different team now and I know I need to step on the field to prove that I belong here.”