The record-setting crowd at Subaru Park roared when team captain Alejandro Bedoya jogged onto the field in the 70th minute, earning his first Leagues Cup minutes after missing the team’s previous five matches due to a lingering quadriceps injury.
Bedoya has been a fixture in the team’s highest-stakes moments throughout his eight-year MLS tenure representing the Boys in Blue, and Tuesday was no different. It took the 36-year-old midfielder just three minutes on the pitch to put his veteran experience on full-display and score the team’s only goal of the night.
In the 73rd minute, Kai Wagner serviced a corner that was first knocked away by traffic in the box, but Bedoya tracked the rebound, striking it right back towards the goal without hesitation. Before Miami’s keeper Drake Callendar could regain position, Bedoya’s shot sailed toward the back of the net, ensuing celebratory chaos in the Rivers End.
Though the match didn’t unfold how the team planned it to, their Leagues Cup campaign isn’t over. There’s still a third place game on the horizon with a Concacaf Champions Cup berth on the line. After Tuesday’s loss, Bedoya spoke about what it’ll take to revitalize the squad for the upcoming Saturday match.
“A lot of soccer is psychological right. Before the game, once the game starts, during the game,” Bedoya said. “Mentally, I think we just have to be a little bit sharper, a little bit better. It is very disappointing. But, the second half the way we came out, I'll give the team credit for that, we showed some pride, and I think that’s more like us.”
Philadelphia took fifteen shots to Miami’s six, but lacked efficiency when their second half attack awarded them chances. A three-goal deficit is far from the way the team intended to finish, but after the final whistle, Bedoya’s message to the team was that of encouragement, urging them to look towards the next match.
“So far, I don’t think we’ve really been at our sharpest, if I'm being honest. I told the guys right now to keep your heads up – we’ve got a game, a third place game, which is still very important. There’s a concacaf Champions Cup spot on the line. We want to make sure we're playing in the Concacaf Championship next year,” Bedoya said.
“We’ll look at some tape, we’ll learn from this, and get back on our feet. Like I said, because we've got a Cocacaf Champions Cup spot on the line this weekend. So we’ve gotta come back to the same building and show what we’re really about.”
For the team captain, it’s unnatural to have positive feelings toward his personal success after a team loss. But for his 8-year-old son Santino, knowing Dad scored against Lionel Messi is something to smile about.
“It doesn’t mean anything to be honest with you. I scored, I tried to do my best to have an impact off the bench, coming off an injury after a month but I mean, to be honest we still lost by three,” Bedoya said.
“But I think my son will be happy when he wakes up. He's in Europe right now, he's in Norway, so he'll probably be like, ‘I can't believe he scored against Messi!’"