If you had to guess that two Philadelphia Union players would be sent off in the 19th minute against Atlanta United on Saturday night, chances are you would never have picked Alejandro Bedoya and Haris Medunjanin.
For good reason.
The veteran duo had only combined for one red card between them in more than 500 career appearances heading into the game at Mercedes Benz Stadium. That came in November 28, 2015 when Bedoya was playing for Nantes in Ligue 1 and was sent off for a second yellow card in second-half stoppage time in a scoreless draw with Bastia.
Medunjanin had never been ejected before, and he once famously talked a referee out of sending off a player from the opposing team.
The bizarre sequence that led to both players seeing an early exit and their nine teammates left to try and fend off the league’s most potent offense for 71 minutes began with a penalty call on Auston Trusty.
Bedoya, who was on a yellow, objected to the call and was issued another yellow card for delay of game.
“Ale Bedoya is standing inside the D fixing his sock, pulling his sock up,” head coach Jim Curtin said after the match. “Sorin (Stoica) took that as delaying of a penalty kick. From everything that the Atlanta players have told me, from what the fourth official said, he had no idea that Ale was already on a yellow card, which is a mistake.”
The incident set off Medunjanin, who then argued his way into two yellow cards and potentially a lengthy suspension considering how aggressive his response was. Medunjanin’s career has spanned more than 350 appearances since making his debut for AZ Alkmaar in 2004 and even yellow cards have been rare (eight now in two years with the Union; 36 over the course of his lengthy career).
It also meant the end of a couple impressive streaks for the 33-year-old. It was the first time in 30 matches he didn’t play the full 90 minutes and it marked the end of a streak of 1,739 straight minutes that he and Bedoya had shared the field.
Medunjanin’s only time subbing off for the Union came in July 2017 when he was replaced in the 87th minute. He’s now played in 48 matches for the blue and gold.
“If something isn’t fair I can’t control myself,” Medunjanin said. “I lost myself 10 seconds and he gave me two yellow cards.”
Pending the outcome of suspensions and any appeal process, Friday’s next league match at home against Toronto FC will be the first game since Chicago Fire away on September 3, 2016 that neither Bedoya or Medunjanin will take the field.
Academy grads Derrick Jones and Anthony Fontana could both benefit from this as both have seen precious few minutes this season in midfield. Warren Creavalle, who did well to set up Fafa Picault’s goal on Saturday night, is ahead of Jones on the depth chart so he will also be a candidate to fill in.