Alejandro Bedoya crop PHI

For seven years, Alejandro Bedoya has been the heart of the Philadelphia Union both on and off the pitch. That isn't changing anytime soon.

On Thursday, Philly announced their club captain has signed a new contract through the 2023 season. His current deal was set to expire this winter. The Union legend will remain a midfield constant for at least one more year and head coach Jim Curtin thinks his impact should be enshrined at Subaru Park.

“To be honest, they should build a statue for this guy at the club," Curtin told media during a virtual press conference.

Bedoya, 35, is helping lead the club to a potentially historic campaign. Philly have the chance to win the Supporters' Shield while setting a new record for goal difference; they currently are at +46 with two games left, while LAFC's record-setting 2019 squad had +48.

Through it all, Bedoya once again is a constant starter and is having his most productive campaign in terms of goal contributions with six goals (career best in MLS) and six assists (tied for his career best in MLS).

“He embodies everything we want from this club," Curtin said. "The next step is the Ring of Honor, for sure, but he shows he’s getting better even as years go by, which is not usually how most careers go. He plays so many important minutes and is such a leader."

Bedoya's path to Philadelphia

Bedoya arrived in Philly in 2016 after numerous years in the French top flight with Nantes. He was signed as a Designated Player for a then-club-record fee. Prior to his debut, the Union made the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs just once (and had failed to qualify the four seasons prior). With Bedoya as an integral piece, the club has enjoyed a steady rise from also-rans to one of the most successful clubs in MLS over the last few years.

The Union made the 2018 US Open Cup final, won the 2020 Supporters' Shield, advanced to the 2021 Concacaf Champions League semifinals and have now made the playoffs in each of the last five seasons, with the chance to win another Shield and standing among the favorites for MLS Cup 2022.

Bedoya also made 66 appearances with the US men's national team during his career, appearing in all four of the USMNT's matches at the 2014 World Cup.

“Without him, our success never comes as a club. I can say that with 100% certainty," Curtin said. "Coaches come and go, sporting directors come and go, but if you don’t have that leader in the locker room, someone who embraces what Philadelphia is about, it doesn’t work. We owe everything to Ale.”

Union's heartbeat

All in all, Bedoya has made 185 regular-season appearances (and counting) for the Union. With his current contract expiring at the end of 2022, there was the theoretical possibility he could field offers from other clubs in free agency.

Curtin is ecstatic that the new deal is wrapped up before the season ends, though he's keeping a watchful eye on St. Louis CITY SC's introduction for 2023 as well.

“In my mind, there’s never a chance I’d ever let him wear another jersey in this league," Curtin said. "But you know how professional sports can be, the crazy different things that happen. There’s still another Expansion Draft next year, so we’ll still have these crazy discussions again. I only want to see him wear the Union badge.”