Union Captain Alejandro Bedoya Sets the Example, On and Off the Field

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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

The Philadelphia Union ground out a 2-2 draw against Atlas in Guadalajara on Wednesday, with captain Alejandro Bedoya’s hard tackling setting the tone early. While Julián Carranza’s brace and stellar midfield performances from Jack McGlynn and substitute Leon Flach rightly grabbed the headlines, getting a result in a hostile environment such as Estadio Jalisco requires leadership, which Bedoya has been bringing on and off the field since his 2016 arrival in Philadelphia.

A tough, gritty away win in the CONCACAF Champions League is the kind of result that can jumpstart a season. The character of the team has been tested in this early part of this season, as team chemistry- and with it, form- has proven strangely difficult to rediscover. Team leaders like Bedoya will be needed to ensure Wednesday’s result becomes the start of the rebound, rather than a false dawn.

Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

More Than Just Stats

Bedoya’s impact on the field often goes beyond the typically referenced stats. He doesn’t have eye-popping attacking or defending numbers. The main stat that stands out from the second leg against Atlas was his winning 100% of duals (not counting aerial duels). Work rate isn’t measured in the same way as other areas of the game, and there can be no denying Bedoya’s. 

Despite his advanced age (said- or written?- with tongue firmly in cheek) of 35, Bedoya gets up and down the right side of the pitch whether it’s the 1st minute or the 90th, oftentimes sooner than players younger and quicker than he is, as a result of his reading of the game and recognition of where the danger from the opposition may be coming from. Even when he starts to get tired, you can almost see him steel himself before making those same runs to assist the offense or defense.

Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

Impact off the Field

Leadership is about more than just what you do on the field. In some ways, it is about more than even what you do with the team. It’s about setting an example, for your teammates, your fans, and for your community. Bedoya has done so with his work in the Philadelphia community and his advocacy for making a better country and a better world.

I want to make sure to emphasize that, as is always the case, all opinions expressed here are the author’s and not necessarily reflective of Philly Sports Network, the Philadelphia Union, or anyone else.

Bedoya has spent the past few years using his privileged position as an athlete and team captain to repeatedly speak out against gun violence. Perhaps the most notable example came in 2019, after mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton (approximately 2,300 mass shootings in the US ago, per Gun Violence Archive), when, after scoring, he found a field mic and shouted into it, “Congress, do something now. End gun violence. Let’s go!” The message was picked up by the broadcast and made news headlines around the country.

That message was not the end of Bedoya’s advocacy. He has continued to do what he can to speak out and push for the changes needed to stop rampant gun violence in the US. It is important for those who are in privileged positions like him to set this kind of example; his voice will be heard, while at the same time, he is far less likely to have his career negatively impacted. He can’t, for example, be the victim of an anti-democratic expulsion simply for not wanting children to be shot.

Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

Perfect Union Captain

Bedoya is the perfect captain for a Philadelphia sports team. He works hard, has a bit of a chip on his shoulder, and plays with the kind of grit and emotional investment that Philly fans have always loved. And he brings those on-field traits to the local community as well, to the betterment of it.

If only the US government showed the kind of leadership and caring about their community that Alejandro Bedoya has shown.

PORTLAND, OR – MAY 22: Philadelphia Union midfielder Daniel Gazdag (6) celebrates his goal with Alejandro Bedoya (11) during an MLS match between the Philadelphia Union and the Portland Timbers on May 22, 2022, at Providence Park in Portland, OR. (Photo by Diego Diaz/Icon Sportswire).

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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union & Diego Diaz/Icon Sportswire