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Raves: Alejandro Bedoya, the real deal

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Editor’s note: This is part of a PSP series titled, “Raves,” in which PSP writers take a break from critical analysis and straight reporting to rave about a particular person from the Philadelphia soccer scene. For more about the series, read the introduction here. To read all posts in the Raves series, click here.

I want to drink a beer with Alejandro Bedoya.

Scratch that.

I want to drink a lot of beers with Alejandro Bedoya. I want to drink all the beers at some scuzzy South Philly dive and just listen to him drop truth bombs at the sticky bar.

The Philadelphia Union captain wears his heart on his sleeve like no other American soccer player. That’s a cliche, sure, but for Bedoya it’s real. The man is transparent, honest, authentic. He calls out other teams, players, USSF bureaucrats, politicians, whoever, for their double speak.

And he never backs down.  Ale is unabashedly himself, no bull. Take it or leave.

I’ll take it, thank you.

Still, Bedoya would probably call my overused metaphor “a bunch of crap.”

Like an existential philosopher, Bedoya dolls his favorite phrase out openly and often. Whenever the Union leave points on the table, Ale doesn’t mince words. Look up the match reports. After nearly every loss or draw, Bedoya drops his “crap” line. And were he, say, in a bar, and not a press scrum, he might use some different language. But it’s all the same chutzpah, all the same raw vigor. It’s not crap. It’s real. Ale’s catch-phrase isn’t nihilism. It’s passion plain and simple.

The child of immigrants, Bedoya is a unabashed about where he stands on right and wrong. He’s at every charity event. He was at Phang’s unveiling, for chrissakes. He sucks it up and goes live on CNN to call out more crap on politics and soccer.

To be an athlete, a public figure, and a father and take a stand is not as easy as it sounds. But he puts himself out there. Ale shows that it’s okay to be both a tough athlete and a sensitive, empathetic human being. He is what he is, man.

He can’t even turn it off for his wife, former professional soccer player Beatrice Hilland:


On the field, Bedoya’s personal dynamism correlates to his tireless, in-your-face play.

I remember my first time in the Union locker room after a match, and Bedoya walked by me. He’s not a big guy, about my height. Not particularly jacked. I was surprised, actually. For some reason I just expected him to be big, but he looked like a normal dude.

That’s because on the field, Bedoya just looms large. Maybe it’s because he seems to always be two places at once. In one sequence, it’s not unusual to see him win the ball in the Union’s own end and, seemingly just seconds later, be the late runner into the box. His heat maps read like hurricane radar. He plays big. He plays up.

That’s hustle, that’s balls, that’s Alejandro Bedoya.

And maybe that’s what stands out about Bedoya. He is a normal dude. But he works harder than anyone; he speaks his mind when he knows something is wrong; and, yes, he even has a crap day or two. But then he owns up to it. And that’s rare.

In 2018, Bedoya has had his best season on the field in Union blue. With Borek Dockal in front of him and a solidified back line behind him, Bedoya has been able to show that he is more than just a shuttler. His passing and vision have been the engine room of Philadelphia’s newly resurgent attack.

And have I mentioned the runs? Oh, the runs! Bedoya sees the field like a chess board, taking space not for the next pass, but for the third, fourth, fifth pass ahead.

Let’s all just revisit this head-down, full-steam run on Cory Burke’s opening goal versus NYCFC just last month:

He knows he’s not getting the ball, that he just needs to make the defender think just one extra second about closing Burke down. So he straight up trucks it to the back post. It’s selfless, bust-your-ass soccer, and it’s why Jim Curtin, the U.S. national team, and myriad other clubs have rated Bedoya so highly.

We should hope Ale stays in Philly for the long haul. If anyone could match the legacy Sebastian Le Toux left in Philly, it’s Bedoya. I’m usually (always) hesitant to jump on the “Philly guy” platitude, but if anyone personifies the dirty fingernails, sweaty-browed legacy of our fair city, it’s the realest captain of the anti-crap, Alejandro Bedoya. I hope he makes that big Ring of Honor sign look a little less lonely in the next decade.

With his off-field candor and integrity and his no-effs-given brand of play on the field, Bedoya is more than just an athlete, but also the type of dude you can sit and have a beer with, and celebrate all that is beautiful and terrible in the world. Being a hell of a soccer player, too, doesn’t hurt.

And Ale, if you’re reading this, I’m buying.

7 Comments

  1. Two thumbs up. We’d be nowhere without this guy.

    He carries on LeToux’s legacy on one other respect too: the guy is absolutely indefatigable. Bedoya playing tired is like most guys playing normally. And so much is asked of him, match after match after match.

  2. Ale has become my favorite Union player of all time. Literally makes everyone around him better. Haris couldn’t start in this league without getting cover from an athlete of Bedoya’s caliber and God help our young center backs if he’s not in front of them.

    And don’t get me started on Arena benching him in the WCQs in favor of softer, less dynamic midfielders.

    Finally, his Instagram game is very strong. He appears to be a great father and has amazing taste in art. Would love to hire him as a consultant to help me with my place.

  3. I loved this article. Man would I love to join you at that bar.

  4. I had never seen that clip of him clearing out his wife. That’s something. He’s also become a favorite of mine. Such a great captain and a a guy who always speaks his mind.

  5. What’s ironic about the Bedoya haters is how they seem to have a list of things he’s not the best at, yet fail to see that he makes everyone around him better. It must be so inspiring to line up next to him, knowing just his simple presence will give you more time, space, and cover.

    • I think a key is also that everyone around him finally IS better. Dockal and Burke were missing complementary pieces that, by virtue of closing the deal more often, shine a clearer light on all the other things Bedoya can do.

  6. Have been very impressed with his work rate. He has no problem making runs and getting back to defend. Spoke to him at a meet and greet his first year here. Just a very genuine guy. Looked my wife and I in the eye when talking to us. Quite impressive!

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