At 35 years old, it’s fair to say that Philadelphia Union captain Alejandro Bedoya has been around the block. College seniors often opt for entering Major League Soccer as soon as they can.
However, Bedoya opted outside his comfort zone and to create a career in Europe — successfully doing so with spells in Sweden, Scotland and France. Having signed for The Union six years ago, and been named captain for five, he’s been a midfield mainstay during his time in Pennsylvania.
As the squad number suggests
Initially, the New Jersey born midfielder was played as an attacking midfielder, a modern day No. 10 if you like. As is often the case in MLS, a team’s play-maker is usually a designated player, given their ability to carve out chances and contribute with goals and assists.
Over time, having previously played on the right-hand side, he would drop further back and later become a pivot in front of a traditional back four. Ironic, therefore, that the former USA international is currently enjoying his best season in terms of contributions.
Six league goals and assists in 29 games is impressive given Bedoya’s age and new role. The Union often look to Daniel Gazdag to conjure something from midfield, with their top scorer occasionally providing for Mikael Uhre and Julián Carranza.
35 is the new 25!! https://t.co/ldYThEtbNp
— Alejandro Bedoya (@AleBedoya17) September 23, 2022
A plethora of pros
However, perhaps that’s exactly why it’s imperative that he sign a new contract. Not only does the veteran provide leadership and experience, but he alleviates pressure from other attacking players. And he’s a key element of the midfield diamond that’s helped to concede the fewest amount of league goals in the division.
There’s also something heart-warming about staying with a club for a long time. The Union are the only American professional team that the skipper has played for. In modern day soccer, feelings of loyalty or romanticism seem to have gone out the window.
Fifth in the Union’s all-time appearance list. The ninth Union player to score at least 20 goals. The third to score 20 goals and bag 20 assists. Holds the club joint-record for assists in a single game (3). The list of achievements and accolades is remarkable.
Major League Soccer themselves acknowledged Bedoya’s brilliance, ranking him top of their ‘5over35’ list.
Big games, big game player
The Union were Eastern Conference winners in 2020, winning the Supporters’ Shield and the first title in their history. The captain then? Alejandro Bedoya. A second is in their sights, with games away to Charlotte and at home to Toronto to come.
The team are on the verge of securing the Eastern Conference’s top spot, and having qualified for the 2023 CONCACAF Champions League, continuity is key to ensure that success can be achieved.
Whether that comes both domestically and regionally is yet to be seen, but the Union stand a better chance with Bedoya at the heart of midfield. Onus is put on players to contribute different things. His know how and intelligence is something that other players maybe cannot provide.
The former Rangers and Nantes midfielder has been there and done it, as the main man within this squad. The perfect professional, the man carrying the armband is the ideal tutor for younger players with aspirations of carving out a career for themselves.
Signing him for another year could — and should — prove a shrewd piece of business for Philly.
— x – PhilaUnion (@PhilaUnion) September 14, 2022
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