Alejandro Bedoya is coming home and the Philadelphia Union are shelling out a reported $2 million to sign the attacking midfielder, the largest sum the club has ever spent on a single player. Bedoya, a New Jersey native, comes from FC Nantes in France's Ligue 1 to make his MLS debut.
It's a signing that brings a bit of star power to a Union team that lacks a marquee player. Bedoya is not a huge global star, but he's been a fixture for the U.S. under coach Jurgen Klinsmann and should raise the quality level in Philly. He probably won't come in and score a ton of goals, but his distribution and smart play should help the Union attack work better all around, while he can play a crucial role in defense.
At first glance, the signing may not seem all that necessary for Philly. Bedoya has mainly been a winger for the U.S. national team and a central attacking midfielder for Nantes, two positions that the Union don't really need help with. But ever since Vincent Nogueira abruptly left Philadelphia in June, the team has had a No. 8-sized hole in their midfield.
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It may not be exactly the role Americans fans know Bedoya for, but he is plenty capable of stepping into that box-to-box midfielder role for the Union. Tranquillo Barnetta and Warren Creavalle have taken over in Nogueira's absence, but not nearly well enough. Barnetta is best deployed as the No. 10 playmaker with Roland Alberg as the bench back-up -- and Bedoya in the midfield would free him up to do what he does best.
That said, it's not out of the question to see Bedoya play on the wing for Philadelphia at some point. Though he's not needed there currently, coach Jim Curtin could consider Bedoya an upgrade from the likes of Ilsinho, whose season has been a bit up-and-down. Otherwise, Bedoya's versatility makes him an attractive utility player who can slot in along the flanks if needed.
So, while Bedoya may not be the caliber of player who will be a game-changer for Philly, he is still a smart, solid player who gives the Union options and puts in the work on both sides of the ball. In the attack, from any position, he is able to find good spots for possession with his movement off the ball and, in defense, he knows how to recover and break-up potential counterattacks. During Copa America, Bedoya was disciplined in both directions and, though he wasn't great, he quietly helped the team.
It remains to be seen if a $1 million transfer fee plus a $1 million salary, the most the Union have ever paid, is the right price to slot Bedoya into that No. 8 role. But there's no question that Bedoya will give the Union a boost in the midfield while also raising the U.S. national team presence on a team that doesn't have many big names other than Maurice Edu, who hasn't played for the U.S. in quite some time. The Union sit fourth in the Eastern Conference, but have simply allowed too many goals, especially since Nogueira left. Putting Bedoya in his place and letting him make everyone else's jobs on the field easier should pay off.
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