Team captain Alejandro Bedoya made a triumphant return to the starting lineup on Saturday against Inter Miami CF, recording his 200th career MLS appearance with the Philadelphia Union.
The crowd erupted into applause when the Subaru Park video board panned to the beloved midfielder during pregame warm-ups as the game also marked his first start since suffering a quadriceps strain during training on May 19th. He made a brief 20-minute return to the pitch in the closing stretch of the team’s 2-2 draw against Orlando City SC on Wednesday, but Saturday was a homecoming -- his first back in front of Union faithful.
“I’m just happy to be back out there with the guys. When you’re injured like that, it’s tough mentally, obviously, because you're just away from the team, you're not working with the team at all. You miss out on the banter, training sessions, and things like that,” Bedoya said after the game.
On the field, Bedoya set up one of the Union’s four goals, passing to the top of the box where Leon Flach was positioned for a powerful strike past Miami keeper Drake Callender.
The captain’s commanding presence did not go unnoticed by his teammates, fans, or Head Coach Jim Curtin, who spoke about Bedoya’s impact after the game.
“He’s our captain. He’s our leader. We feel more like us when he’s part of the group,” Curtin said.
Bedoya’s Philadelphia Union career began in 2016 and he’s since established himself as a fixture of the team, starting 191 of his 200 appearances. Through that span, he’s compiled 31 assists, 22 goals, a Supporters’ Shield, an Eastern Conference Championship, and most recently, an MLS Cup. His accolades are many and only set to grow – he’s quickly approaching the 200th start mark, all the while ensuring the Union stay near the top of the ever-congested Eastern Conference standings.
When made aware of his milestone after the game, Bedoya reflected on the club and how it’s grown through his six seasons in Philadelphia.
“When I first came here, I was sold on a lot of things. The ambitions and this new way the club was thinking, forward thinking. To see how far the club has come, and to have been part of that for so long, I think it’s great. I've played with so many great guys and great players. I'm looking forward to not 200 more games, but a lot more games I hope and being part of the Union family,” Bedoya said.
Sage Hurley - @SageHurl