It didn't look like Alejandro Bedoya caught the ball cleanly. The shot had power, but it skittered across the grass, nosing around legs and making a strangely determined beeline for the far post. Donovan Pines, who moments earlier was embarrassed by Andrew Wooten on the sideline, stretched to stop the ball but to no avail. Bill Hamid dove, stared, and sighed.
Bedoya was already gone, screaming as he ran off to celebrate in the corner where he expected Union fans to be waiting (they were located in a different section than the one occupied during the US Open Cup match these teams played earlier this year).
The Union captain improvised: He embraced Ilsinho's family as teammates joined him. The emotion of an early goal after a disheartening loss to Montreal was palpable, and Philadelphia fans were both filled with both relief and energized with passion. Bedoya soon picked up a yellow card for a sliding tackle on the edge of the box, another aggressive play from a captain that leads by example every time he steps onto the pitch.
Philadelphia went on to win 5-1, reclaiming the top spot in the Eastern Conference as the final two months of the 2019 season loom.
Bedoya wasn't included on the Twitter ballot for MLS Player of the Week, nor was he named to the First XI of the MLS Team of the Week. But his on-field display partnered with his willingness to speak his mind about gun violence and how it affects how him as a parent and a human being were what convinced voters Bedoya should be the Player of the Week. Bedoya spoke with earnestness after the match about why he made the decision to pair his goal celebration with words about gun violence, and his words connected with many.
For all his attributes as a leader, a human, and a player, Alejandro Bedoya is a deserving MLS Player of the Week.