With Alejandro Bedoya Arrival, Philadelphia Union Ready to Contend

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Since their MLS debut in 2010, the Philadelphia Union have pondered through life in the Eastern Conference. As a middling force in the league, they have struggled to create a side that captures the imagination of the neutrals who watch American soccer. A club high third in conference play and a Conference Semi-Final berth in 2011 has been followed by a four-year absence from the MLS playoffs. Preferring to invest in youth development and build a steady team from the roots up, the organization paid the price in the short term.

With Alejandro Bedoya Arrival, Philadelphia Union Ready to Contend

Despite this, the pieces have been coming together for the Union over the last few years. Drafting Andre Blake in the 2014 draft was a perfectly executed chess move by Jim Curtin. Blake is only goalkeeper to have been drafted first overall in the MLS Super Draft. The goalkeeper  has been in superb form for club and country during the 2016 season. As well as Blake, Chris Pontius signed over the off season as a free agent and has been imperious in the Union’s forward line scoring a team leading eight goals in the MLS this season and in production terms a virtual snip at $380,000 base salary for the season.

With consistency, the management needed guile and creativity. They added Ilsinho from Shakhtar Donetsk and Tranquillo Barnetta from Schalke FC in Germany. Include CJ Sapong and Charlie Davies in the conversation and theUnion have found themselves to be a very competitive side.

Patience in Balance

One thing that the Union have been able to find with their side is balance. They drafted Keegan Rosenberry third overall this year. Rosenberry, the Pennsylvania native, has found a spot at right back. The rookie of the year contender is joined by Fabinho at left back. The Brazilian adds a balance to the Union’s defense that other sides do not have.

In comparison, other sides in the MLS’s Eastern Conference currently challenging the Union near the top of the conference have spent far more funds, and concentrated much of their resources to their attacking game. Many teams have the glitz and glamour of famous designated players.

However, up to a week ago Philadelphia’s sole DP was former USA and Glasgow Rangers captain Maurice Edu. That is no knock on Edu who himself has been a solid professional during his time in the MLS, but in a league so attack focused you need to have more firepower than has previously been available to the Philadelphia Union. He’s been a blue collar DP for a blue collar franchise.

Bedoya the Fulcrum?

It is fair to assume that Philadelphia are perhaps performing more admirably than many could have expected. This may be their best chance to put together a deep play-off run in a number of years.

With this in mind, the management team at the Union have played one of their coveted designated player slots to bring in USMNT mainstay Alejandro Bedoya. Bedoya, an attacking midfielder, would have been a highly coveted MLS recruit for many sides. The new man could prove to be the fulcrum in a successful play-off side come the end of the MLS season. Bedoya made his debut as his new side dismantled the struggling New England Revolution 4:0 this weekend. The U.S. International proved an instant hit.

This season so far has been a solid 15 around the proverbial blackjack table for the Philadelphia Union, the management team in signing Bedoya have clearly decided to hit instead of stand. Only time will tell if Alejandro proves to be the magical 6 to take them to the MLS Cup Final.