US national team midfielder Alejandro Bedoya signs with Philadelphia Union

Alejandro Bedoya - Philadelphia Union - home jersey image

Another US national team starter is returning to MLS.

Just hours before the close of the 2016 MLS summer transfer window, the Philadelphia Union announced one of the biggest moves made by any MLS club this year, signing USMNT midfielder Alejandro Bedoya from French club Nantes as a Designated Player.

The transaction involved the Union making a trade with the Chicago Fire, who held the top spot in the Allocation Ranking, the player acquisition mechanism by which Bedoya entered the league.

The Union traded General Allocation Money, Targeted Allocation Money, the club’s natural 1st Round pick in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft and the Discovery Priority on a player to be named later in exchange for the No. 1 Allocation Ranking spot.

“We have laid out very specific goals for our club this season and Alejandro adds the type of quality that can instantly guide us in achieving them,” Union Sporting Director Earnie Stewart said in a club statement. “He’s a tremendous player in the prime of his career and we’re thrilled to welcome him to the club.”

The move was rumored earlier this week and Bedoya's French club, Nantes, were the first to break the news on Wednesday morning.

The 29-year-old has never played in MLS, emigrating to Scandinavia after finishing his college career at Boston College. He played in Sweden (Orebro SK and Helsingborgs IF) and in Scotland (Glasgow Rangers) before landing with Nantes in 2013.

Bedoya has 53 caps and two goals with the US national team since debuting in 2010, featuring prominently as a regular starter at the Copa America Centenario in June.

"It is with great pleasure that I can finally say I will have a chance to play in the MLS," said Bedoya in statement he released through his Twitter account. "It was not easy to make the decision to leave Europe after playing and living here for 9 years. However, I couldn't be happier to be joining an organization like Philadelphia.

"I look forward to meeting my new teammates, coaches, and putting in solid performances for the fans to take the Union to the next level."

He joins a Union team that finds itself in the middle of the playoff race in the Eastern Conference, sitting in 4th place with 30 points from 22 matches. As has often been the case with the USMNT, Bedoya could potentially line up anywhere in the Union midfield -- deep in central midfield or at either of the wing positions. He'll add to an already explosive Union attack which has racked up the 4th most goals in the league with 36.

The Union nearly clinched Bedoya's signature at this same time a year ago, only for Nantes to reportedly pull out of the deal at the last minute. The Bedoya-to-MLS rumors then resurfaced briefly in January with SuperDraft day chatter linking him with a potential move to the Colorado Rapids.

Philadelphia are on the road for their next two MLS matches, on Saturday night at East foes D.C. United (7 pm ET on MLS LIVE) and then the following Saturday, Aug. 13 at Gillette Stadium against New England (7:30 pm ET on MLS LIVE).

In his Wednesday press conference, Union head coach Jim Curtin said "it's not out of the question" that Bedoya might be ready to make his first appearance for his new club vs. D.C. United.