In Philadelphia Union debut, Alejandro Bedoya proves a winning puzzle piece

FOXBOROUGH, Mass.—In the buildup to his first MLS appearance, Alejandro Bedoya noticed the potential in his new team. He spent the week preparing for his Philadelphia Union debut and noting how the component parts might mold together to create a fluid, effective side capable of propelling a playoff push.

“I could already see it in training this week,” Bedoya told after the Union’s 4-0 win at New England on Saturday night. “This team has the players to play some good soccer, some attractive soccer and do some damage to some other teams.”

Philadelphia coach Jim Curtin noticed the reaction in his squad after the USMNT midfielder Bedoya arrived from Ligue 1 side FC Nantes, too. He spotted how players like Tranquillo Barnetta and Ilsinho reacted when Bedoya deftly floated from spot to spot, orchestrated the tempo, and slotted into good defensive positions in his new role as the Union’s No. 8. He watched his players combine neatly on the training field and then saw them translate it into an effective, professional performance to overwhelm the Revolution.

“They get excited when they see a guy who sees the game like they do,” Curtin said. “They’re special players. They are top players for a reason. They have a way of recognizing and blending into a team and knowing who should be on the ball. We preach to our guys to get the best players on the field on the ball as much as possible. Some nights, it works. Tonight, we executed and did it.”

Bedoya slipped seamlessly into a side in full flight on this evening. He punctuated his display with a rasping first-half effort wide of goal, but he mostly strung things together. He found good spaces and looked to provide a tidy, reliable link on the ball.

Those efforts allowed Barnetta to exert his influence on the game and supplied the sort of dexterity required to punish the Revs for their defensive failings on the night. C.J. Sapong, Chris Pontius, Richie Marquez and second-half substitute Roland Alberg all provided the tangible production required to translate this performance into a deserved three points.

It is the sort of display capable of serving as a building block for Bedoya (72 minutes as he builds his match fitness after the recent move) and the Union (first win in five league matches) as the sharp end of the campaign beckons.

“I can see already that with me and Barnetta and the front three, there’s going to be an ability to play with each other and combine with each other,” Bedoya said. “I’m excited to be part of this team and I think the future bodes well for this club. ”