Bedoya, Medunjanin were "hungry" to contribute in Union's US Open Cup win

CHESTER, Pa. — Alejandro Bedoya has been encouraging Haris Medunjanin to take more shots from distance.

So after sliding a pass to his teammate in the middle of the field, Bedoya was glad to see Medunjanin fire a rocket into the back of the net, propelling the Philadelphia Union to a 2-1 win over the New York Red Bulls on Saturday and a spot in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals.

Not surprisingly, it was Bedoya and Medunjanin, two of the team’s most seasoned players, who led the charge after both missed most of the last two MLS games — losses to Atlanta and Toronto — after picking up red cards at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on June 2.

“It sucks to not be playing,” Bedoya said. “You always want to be active and a part of the games, so it’s been weird watching from the stands for both games, against Toronto too, feeling that guys like me and Haris could have made a difference that game. I thought that was a weaker Toronto than we’ve seen in the past and I thought I could have definitely done some damage to them. But here I am, back in the fold.”

Considering the Union viewed their big week vs. Atlanta and Toronto as a litmus test to prove that they can stack up with some of the league’s most talented teams, the Bedoya and Medunjanin absences were difficult to swallow.

But against another elite team on Saturday night at Talen Energy Stadium, the two central midfielders helped control the tempo with Medunjanin finishing with a goal and assist and Bedoya a pair of assists.

“I have to say, Ale Bedoya’s game and Haris Medunjanin’s game is at a very high level,” Union head coach Jim Curtin said. “Ale’s ability to dribble out of a tight spot kind of throws the Red Bulls’ press off. They fly at you and his composure to beat the first guy on the dribble had them scrambling and got us out of tight spots. Overall, it was a very good win against a very good team.”

While Medunjanin started in the Union’s first Open Cup win, a 5-0 rout of the Richmond Kickers on June 5, Bedoya hasn’t suited up since a win over Chicago on May 30.

But the Union captain was as sharp as he’s been all season, playing Cory Burke through in the 61st minute for what proved to be the game-winning goal.

“I was hungry,” Bedoya said.

So was the rest of his team as the Union improved to 7-0-5 in their last 12 Open Cup games, with Curtin saying “we have a special group when it comes to this competition.” They also scored a measure of revenge against the Red Bulls, who knocked them out of the 2017 Open cup on penalties.

“It’s a whole new season and a whole new Cup,” winger Fafa Picault said.

Added Bedoya: “When we’re at home, we know we can beat any team in the league.”