Earnie Stewart has brought another versatile midfielder into the fold in Alejandro Bedoya, and the question that coach Jim Curtin refused to answer in his introductory press conference was: where will he play? Many assume he will fill the box-to-box midfielder role vacated by Vincent Nogueira which hasn't been the same with Tranquillo Barnetta as the replacement. Bedoya can certainly fill that role, it's just that he hasn't played it recently. For FC Nantes last season he started ten games at the 10 (central attacking midfielder) and six games as a right winger. He normally plays a wider role when with Jurgen Klinsmann and the U.S. National Team as well.
And then of course there is the position that he'd really like to play. He said the 8 in a 4-3-3 would be his favorite position.
Formations are overrated but I'd say as a number 8 in a 4-3-3. https://t.co/3EdNQhNn9Q— Alejandro Bedoya (@AleBedoya17) December 3, 2015
Here's a visual representation of Bedoya's personal ideal.
The 8 position in the 4-3-3 plays a position that is in between the 4-2-3-1 box-to-box midfielder and the right winger and plays more of shuttling role. Given that Bedoya can play both centrally and wide it makes sense that he'd most enjoy a hybrid of the two roles.
But a 4-3-3 is just a dream when you're living in Curtin's world. One thing we can know with certainty is that Curtin won't budge from his precious 4-2-3-1 lineup. Let's move to that formation and start with what I would consider to be Bedoya's least likely role, the 10. Here's how the starting XI would look.
The 10 might be the toughest position to fill in MLS and the Union now have three legitimate options. That's why I don't think Bedoya will go here this season. This move would displace both Roland Alberg and Barnetta from their ideal roles. If Bedoya plays another position then only one has to play out of position.
Here's what the lineup would look like with Bedoya on the right wing.
The trade of Sebastien Le Toux might indicate that this is where Bedoya will start. The depth at this position has thinned out and will now be Ilshino, which is a nice bench option. I believe this gets the strongest three players of the four central and right side players (Alberg, Ilshino, Bedoya and Barnetta) on at once. Starting Bedoya on the right side will also take advantage of his defense (more than it would at the 10) and be a big upgrade on the right hand side.
This is what the XI would look like if Bedoya indeed replaces Nogueira.
Again it's worth noting that Bedoya hasn't played this position a lot recently. He did say that he is comfortable and even prefers a deeper lying midfield role. This would take advantage of his defense most notably but also be the closest replacement to Nogueira as the Union to could wish for. The issue is that it moves Alberg to the bench when I think the preference is to move Ilshino to the bench. Both players have been inconsistent, but Alberg has proven to have a bigger impact overall.
It's worth noting that next season this decision could certainly change. With the contracts of Chris Pontius, Brian Carroll and Barnetta ending, there will be more options to consider and new players to fit into the system. It's perhaps only then we'll find out where Earnie Stewart and Jim Curtin really believe Bedoya should play. Until then I'd like to seem him play on the right and wreak havoc with Keegan Rosenberry on offense and defense.
Where do you think Bedoya should play? Take the poll and feel free to debate in the comments section below!