As the Philadelphia Union climbed to new heights in 2021 with trips to the Concacaf Champions League semi-final and the Eastern Conference final in the MLS playoffs, Alejandro Bedoya was the glue that bound the squad together.
In 2021, Bedoya played in 40 games across all competitions, starting 38 of them, and racked up 3,420 minutes.
He linked the defense and attack on the right side of the field; he exemplified the relentless grinding that the Union uses to wear down opponents; and he supported the homegrowns as they came into the squad, helping to create an environment where they could succeed.
After Ray Gaddis’s retirement before the start of the season, Bedoya developed a productive relationship with new starting right back Olivier Mbaizo. He used smart runs to open up space so Mbaizo could cross the ball into dangerous spots, and the Union captain frequently got into dangerous positions himself, scoring three goals and providing three assists.
The main question moving forward for Bedoya is how long he can pair his high level of play with his considerable playing time.
He’ll turn 35 in April, and occupies one of the most demanding roles on the pitch, one that requires him to go box-to-box for the entire game. In the past, the Union has needed him to give as many minutes as possible, since he was one of their most important players, and he rarely came off the pitch.
What changed in 2021 was that Bedoya’s backups have been strong in their own right. Quinn Sullivan showed significant potential, and new signing Jesus Bueno came on at crucial moments during the latter part of the season to provide vital end-game stability.
Even if Bedoya can’t maintain his impressive minutes total next season, there are players ready to jump in and perform.
Apart from his contributions on the field next year, it looks like Bedoya’s most important task will be preparing the foundation for the next generation of the Union midfield.
MLS Team of the Week Bench: Week 29
Brotherly Game Community Player of the Game: Toronto FC, October 27
FotMob Man of the Match: NYCFC, August 19 (8.4)
Read our other 2021 season player reviews at brotherlygame.com/player-reviews.