Philadelphia Union: Alejandro Bedoya will "play a role" in Eastern Conference Final

Alejandro Bedoya

There's some good news, Philadelphia Union fans: Alejandro Bedoya is on track to play in Sunday’s Eastern Conference Final against New York City FC at Subaru Park (8 pm ET | FS1, FOX Deportes).

Head coach Jim Curtin, addressing the media Thursday, didn’t divulge exactly how many minutes await their captain. But a return seems imminent for the 35-year-old midfielder, who’s been dealing with a hip flexor strain.

“​​I think it's pretty safe to say, whether as a starter or off the bench, he'll play a role and a big one in this game because he's our captain, he's our leader and we need him,” Curtin said.

Bedoya, often playing on the right-hand side of Philadelphia’s diamond midfield (4-4-2 formation), got a 16-minute substitute runout in a 4-0 Decision Day rout (on Oct. 9) of Toronto FC that locked up the East’s No. 1 seed. Otherwise, that’s his sole appearance across the club’s last four games – a stretch extending to just before the September international break.

Out of caution, Bedoya wasn’t utilized in Philadelphia’s 1-0 Conference Semifinal victory over FC Cincinnati last week. In his place, homegrown standout and US youth international Jack McGlynn ably filled the gap.

But Curtin said Bedoya “trained full today,” a hopeful sign before a match that decides who reaches MLS Cup 2022 on Nov. 5.

“Obviously we have two more sessions going in, so a little bit of a longer week,” Curtin said. “We're able to kind of ease him into the week. He's pushed himself very hard and worked very hard, doesn't have a ton of discomfort as of right now.

“So again, we'll see how he responds. In today's full session, which was a transition day, so a high-intensity session, he had no issues reported so far.”

Bedoya, a former US men’s national team standout who joined Philadelphia in 2016 from Ligue 1 side Nantes, is having his best-ever MLS season. Aging like fine wine, he’s got 6g/6a across 30 matches (27 starts).

This all occurs with Philadelphia perhaps chasing some revenge, losing 2-1 against NYCFC at this exact stage a year ago while 11 players missed out due to health and safety protocols. And it won’t come easy, since the Cityzens have won back-to-back matches in the Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs, knocking off Inter Miami CF and CF Montréal by a combined 6-1 scoreline.

“It's two really good teams that I think are the two best teams in the Eastern Conference this season,” Curtin said. “We get to play in our home stadium, which is something that we worked very hard to get. But we expect a very difficult match and look forward to the challenge.”