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Alejandro Bedoya was the heart and engine of the Philadelphia Union in 2019

Oh Captain, My Captain

Photo by Morgan Tencza

Alejandro Pedroya...err I mean Bedoya, had one heck of a 2019 season. The Philadelphia Union provided their fans with plenty of memorable moments and performances throughout the past year’s campaign, many of which involve their captain. As you would want your team’s captain to be, Bedoya was the heart and engine of this team.

A review of Bedoya’s season should look well past the stats, a 5g/4a season sounds decent but relatively forgettable. The veteran captain brought so much more to this team than a stat line. A player that has previously been described as doing the unnoticed “dirty work” broke out of that description in various ways in the past season.

Bedoya showed up in big moments multiple times this year. From scoring goals in crucial moments to halftime rallying of his team after less than stellar first halves, he did all the things you want your team’s captain to do. He even played a bit of right fullback when his team found themselves down late in a game and needed to push more players forward.

Tactically speaking, the Union shifted their identity away from the possession based 4-2-3-1 toward a more pressing and aggressive 4-4-2. This led to Bedoya playing on the right side of the middle diamond as a “shuttler” between the defensive and offensive lines. The shuttler role was one that made perfect sense for Bedoya due to his abilities on both sides of the ball as well as his relentless work rate to cover ground and be effective in the press. When the team needed to switch back to the reliable 4-2-3-1, Bedoya remained effective. In either setup, he was able to provide much needed defensive stability when working between Ray Gaddis and Haris Medunjanin.

On the other side of the ball, Bedoya opened up his goal account with a beautiful game winner in a comeback effort against FC Dallas on April 6, with help from some Ilsinho magic. On August 4, he scored a statement-making goal in D.C. on a nationally televised game to start a rout against the then second best team in the East at the time. Two of his other goals this season came in times the team needed him most. In San Jose on September 25, when the Union were down 1-0 with 20 minutes to go, Bedoya stepped up and scored the first of two unanswered to give Philly a crucial three points on the road. Then again, in the biggest game of the year, when Union faithful were losing hope after going down 2-0 early in their home playoff game, our captain found the back of the net to restore hope and played over 100 minutes on one leg to assure the first playoff win in Philadelphia Union history.

Even still, there’s more to say about Bedoya’s 2019 season. Although this is a review of a player’s performance over the year, it shouldn’t be overlooked just how special the person is as well. There were a few moments this year where we were reminded that he is one of the best leaders this team has seen. First was the D.C. goal in which Bedoya found a field mic and shouted at Congress to “Do Something Now” to end the gun violence that constantly plagues our country. This was a moment that rightfully took national attention as it was not long after the pair of shootings that took place in Texas and Ohio. Another special moment was after he scored his goal against the Earthquakes. He held up his armband that had the initials “LM” standing for Lucy McCabe, a member of the #Fearless43. This program that the Union put together, a part of MLS’s Kick Childhood Cancer campaign, led to Bedoya meeting Lucy, a pediatric cancer patient, and bonding with her during her time spent with the Union for the program. Lucy passed away a week earlier and Bedoya wanted to dedicate his goal to her in that moment.

There were moments where Bedoya showed his class as a soccer player and moments where he showed his class as a person. Both of which obviously predates the 2019 MLS season, but they were on display throughout it, and he made the Union fan base proud. A potential Ring of Honor candidate is where Alejandro Bedoya left off in 2019; hopefully in 2020 he’ll seal the deal.