Philadelphia Union

Bedoya’s leadership through thick and thin created the Union’s identity

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It’s been a long time since August 3, 2016. That was the date the Union took a chance on signing USMNT international Alejandro Bedoya. A little more than five years later, the Union’s captain has led the club to their first-ever playoff win, their first-ever trophy, and now is in the midst of leading them on deep MLS Cup Playoffs run. When talking about the creation of Philly’s identity as a club there tends to be a lot about Jim Curtin and Ernst Tanner (for good reason as they’ve been instrumental) and little about the on-the-pitch leader. Bedoya’s leadership through thick and thin has been a hugely influential part of how the Union created its identity.

Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union, Andrew Zwarych

Bedoya’s leadership through thick and thin

Alejandro came into the Union and quickly became a leader on the team. While he was quick to say he wasn’t going to take over the team and be captain overnight, you could tell that the club and the players looked to him for leadership. Fast-forward to 2021, and he’s THE guy. He’s the leader encouraging his teammates ready, doing media bits, speaking to the press, and instilling the game plan on the pitch. He’s the tempo setter for the Union; as he goes so does Philly.

Bedoya is the perfect person to be in charge of how the Union is on the pitch. His work rate and style of play mimics the city he plays for. Ale is tough, down-to-earth, and not afraid to do whatever it takes to lead this team to victory. Bedoya’s leadership style is a huge part of how he has instilled a club culture amongst the players who wear the Union’s badge. He’s done it in two ways, one way is not so expected or thought about much in the city of brotherly love.

A humble leader

Ale Bedoya is a humble leader. I know what you’re thinking, he’s a loud and vocal guy who will say whatever comes to his mind, how can he be a humble leader? Well, when you look at what it means to be a humble leader you see certain characteristics that just scream Alejandro Bedoya. There are two main ways that Ale portrays being a humble leader, and in turn, has created the club culture we see on the pitch from the Union.

The first is that humble leaders have a good self-image, but don’t have to tell you how good they are. This is true about Bedoya’s on-the-field and off-the-field presence. On the field, you know what you’re going to get from Ale. He’s gonna control the midfield; he’ll run from box to box for seven-plus miles in 90 minutes all to push-and-pull this Union team to victory. Off the field, he stays clear of talking himself up and instead talks about others and the team’s overall progression. This leads directly into the next way that Bedoya exudes humble leadership.

The second is that humble leaders are willing and able to lift others up. Ale does this at all times, and you can see it in the way that his team responds and reacts to him. Bedoya’s never-say-die attitude has been instilled in the club’s culture. Therefore, every other player that puts on the Union shirt has to have this same value. Whether it’s intrinsic or needs to be brought out of players, Bedoya is the one who lifts his teammates up to be the best versions of themselves on the pitch.

Ale Bedoya is truly a humble leader who has been able to create a culture of winning on the pitch thanks to truly putting the team above the self. Not only does this make Bedoya a humble leader, but also an inspirational one.

An inspirational leader

Alejandro Bedoya leads by example. Because of this, he is an inspiration to every other player on the Union’s roster. He will give his all for the team, while also motivating his teammates to get to that same level. This is one of the reasons the Union has progressed each year since Bedoya has been with Philly. He is the quintessential leader for this Union team, and motivation is his best-used tool.

The Union has a clear goal as to what they want to do as a team thanks to Jim Curtin and Ernst Tanner. Alejandro Bedoya happens to be the living embodiment of what that goal is, and motivation is how Bedoya gets the rest of the team to get to achieve their goals on the pitch. He motivates to provide that clear vision and purpose the team has on any-given-gameday. This then helps the team set clear goals on how to win in preparation and during the game based on motivation.

This can only be achieved through encouragement and empowerment, two weapons Ale is good at wielding to get his team up to the task. You can tell Bedoya’s presence on this team is one where he expects a lot of players, especially the youngsters at Philly. He helps them meet those expectations by encouraging and empowering them to do what he knows they can do. This type of leadership has been monumental in the Union’s production of homegrown talent that contributes to big club altering moments.

Bedoya has been instrumental in construction the Union’s identity

Alejandro Bedoya will be one of the names in the Union’s ring of honor one day. The leadership and foundation that he set have made this club a true contender. He took a lifeless young club and helped them be consistently competitive, and a big reason for this is his ability to be humble and inspire greatness.

As the Union plays Nashville SC tomorrow, Bedoya will be in the middle of the pitch wearing the captain’s armband. He might not impact the game for the entirety of it, but every step he takes will be one to try to push this Union team to a place they have never been before, the eastern conference finals of the MLS Cup Playoffs.

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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union, Andrew Zwarych

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Philadelphia Union Editor of Soccer Content

A passion for the beautiful game drives me.

Twitter: @Tim_Lovenguth

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