Alejandro Bedoya’s goal for the Union against FC Dallas on Saturday was just his ninth goal for the team in 83 games. He has also probably missed twice that many good chances in his four years here, whether wide left or wide right or off the crossbar or the posts. You name the direction, he has hit the ball that way and come within inches of scoring.
So when he struck the game-winner in the 92nd minute at Talen Energy Stadium, between the timing and his own circumstances he had every reason to celebrate. This time, the soccer gods smiled upon him.
“I finally got one of those goals that all these strikers always get, where you just shoot it and it goes between the defender’s legs,” he said after the game.
Bedoya didn’t just deliver with the goal. He had a big game all over the field, recording 75 touches, 4 tackles, 2 interceptions and 1 clearance, and completing 49 of 55 passes.
A few of those defensive plays came when Bedoya was thrown into a makeshift right back role after Jamiro Monteiro replaced Ray Gaddis in the 78th minute. Monteiro lined up next to Haris Medunjanin in the center, and Bedoya moved to the outside. The work he did won’t show up in the box score, but he did plenty.
Union manager Jim Curtin joked that the media “should write about Bedoya being the right back of the national team in the future.” He really was joking, rest assured. But he knew what was doing in deploying Bedoya there.
“Listen, it’s desperate times, so we made some adjustments to get our strongest group on the field,” Curtin said. “There were five or six discussions of what were the moves, but you couldn’t take [Brenden] Aaronson off the way he was playing, so we were maybe creative in a way, keeping him on the left-hand side. We needed Jamiro’s ball-winning as the game started to get really stretched and open, and his quickness in the middle of the field. And then we needed a goal, so we took Ray off, who did a great job defensively.”
Bedoya got it, too. He quipped that he “turned into a little Cafu," referring to the two-time World Cup winning Brazilian right back who often played as much offense as defense. Then he made the quite valid point that “outside backs are, sometimes in the modern game, converted wingers or whatever.”
That is increasingly true in American soccer. Crystal Dunn, the U.S. women’s team’s left back, plays an attacking role for the North Carolina Courage. Tyler Adams, the U.S. men’s team’s right back, plays in central midfield for RB Leipzig in Germany’s Bundesliga.