Alejandro Bedoya is no stranger to Walt Disney World having grown up in southern Florida.
Since arriving with the Philadelphia Union last week for the MLS is Back Tournament, he’s hardly recognized the environment at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort and ESPN Wide World of Sports where they’re staying and training.
“It’s eerily quiet in here, you know, as a guy who grew up in Florida going to Disney,” Bedoya said Tuesday in a video conference with media. “I mean, these hotels are (usually) packed with families and kids and, you know, babies crying and stuff.”
Bedoya was one of the more vocal critics of the competition before it started in part because of the length of time he and his teammates would have to be away from their families, which was shortened after the initial proposal. He’s been quoted in countless publications — most recently in Wired Magazine — referring to the tournament environment as a “luxurious prison.”
“I was very skeptical about it,” he said Tuesday. “I don’t think the bubble has been burst, so to speak, yet those teams have been put in a different window hotel and isolation and quarantine and you can see even when we’re walking in hallways guys still walking on the other side and just saying hi not stopping too long to talk with one another. So from that sense we’re trying to take the measures that are necessary for the bubble and not to be adverse with transmitting the virus within the bubble.”
Bedoya said he was apprehensive before arriving in Orlando because of the spiking cases of COVID-19 across the state.
“I was scared coming here as we all saw Florida (cases) blowing up you know because Florida’s gonna Florida and the cases around here just increasing at a crazy rate,” Bedoya said, noting that a transmission within the bubble, which is something that hasn’t been reported to date, would be a “real cause for concern.”
Though the Union were the first team in the league to report a positive case a few months ago, there haven’t been any reported positive tests among the players and just one among staff who has also recovered since the player who was later revealed to be Kacper Przybylko tested positive and had a full recovery.
Bedoya credited his teammates with not only following the protocols but also keeping a positive attitude and focusing on the task at hand.
“I try to stay as positive and optimistic as possible and that’s what we’ve been doing more on the training field, practicing in the heat and all that, and all the elements,” he said. “We’re down here already, so I think it’s trying to look forward (to playing) and for some of the positive things instead of always doom and gloom and negativity.”
The Union play NYCFC on 9 a.m. Thursday on ESPN in the first “breakfast” match of the competition.