The Union have landed Alejandro Bedoya.
After two years courting the 29-year-old U.S men’s national team starter, the Union were finally able to land their man, closing a deal with Ligue 1 side, FC Nantes, on Wednesday.
“We were aggressive and we got a special player,” said Union manager Jim Curtin. “One that will be here with us for awhile. He’s excited, we’re excited and it’s a special day for the club. Alejandro can’t wait to get to work and I can’t wait to get to work with him.”
The signing is considered the biggest in club history in terms of money and name recognition, reaching upwards of $1 million in transfer fee and $1 million in yearly salary, according to ESPN. It’s also an indication that the club is willing to spend to reach the next level.
“First and foremost, I want to thank our owner Jay Sugarman and all our owners for this commitment and a declaration that we are raising the bar,” Curtin said. “The player is a special one.”
But where Bedoya fits isn’t entirely clear. Though he’s a winger and attacking midfielder by trade, the Union need the most help in the No. 8 spot -- the box-to-box midfield position left open by the sudden departure of Vincent Nogueira on June 16.
“We know exactly what role we’re going to play him in,” said Curtin, who also mentioned Bedoya could play as early as Saturday against D.C. United. “It would be silly to reveal that and give anyone a head start on preparations for playing a Union team.
“Good players have the way of sorting that out.”
The Union are 2-5-1 since Nogueira left.
“He brings us a boost at the right moment, when we need a little boost,” Curtin said. “There’s still 12 games left, we have a push for the playoffs. And we don’t just want to make the playoffs we want to make some noise. That’s the goal of the club and the bar has been raised at all levels. We’ve added a very good player to what is a very strong team.”
In order to receive Bedoya, the Union needed to make a deal with the Chicago Fire, who owned the top spot in MLS allocation order -- similar to waiver lists in other sports. The Union gave up general allocation money, targeted allocation money, a 2017 MLS SuperDraft first-round pick, discovery rights to an unnamed player and the Union’s spot in the allocation order.
Born in New Jersey but raised in Florida, Bedoya, 29, spent seven years playing overseas from Sweden to France. With Nantes since 2013, Bedoya opted to return home, following the lead of his USMNT teammates, Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey and the latest, Tim Howard.
“He’s a guy that has technical ability, tactical ability, ability to score a goal,” Curtin said. “Defensive work, we can go on and on about that. The important thing for our fan base to know is that he’s one of us. He is a Philadelphia-mentality guy. He checks every box, down to our own Billy Beane-type numbers and Alejandro comes out with flying colors.”
Bedoya, known for his technical ability and work rate, has been a USMNT starter since the 2014 World Cup, where he played all four games. Since 2010, he’s collected 53 caps and two goals.
“He’s one of the four to five players (USMNT coach) Jurgen (Klinsmann) calls in every time, relies on every time and puts in the lineup every game,” Curtin said. “He’s a winner. It starts from there.”