For the first time all season, the Union (8-8-7) find themselves in a difficult spot. A 2-2 draw to D.C. United (5-8-9) on Saturday tallied their record to just 2-5-2 since the international break. In order to right the ship, the team has made some drastic changes to their lineup to shake things up for the upcoming playoff stretch.
Last Wednesday, the Union signed USMNT midfielder Alejandro Bedoya from Ligue 1’s Nantes. A day later, they traded for forward Charlie Davies of the New England Revolution, a former teammate of Bedoya at Boston College. To make room for Davies, the club shipped fan favorite Sebastien Le Toux to the Colorado Rapids in exchange for allocation money.
Dropping to fifth place (31 points) in a tight Eastern Conference, the Union have little room for error with just 11 matches left in the regular season. The team and fan base isn’t willing to let their first playoff appearance since 2011 to slip through the cracks.
“It’s hard to win,” Union manager Jim Curtin said after Saturday’s draw. “It’s hard to win games in this league, no question about it. Home or away, it’s very difficult, and you can see that across the league. … The guys are devastated, but we have to learn from it and move on to the next match and go again against New England.”
The Union hope that Bedoya can supply the type of midfield jolt the team had to start the season from Vincent Noguiera, who was surprisingly cut from the Union back on June 16 due to an undisclosed health issue.
The Union were riding a club-record eight-match unbeaten streak before Noguiera’s departure and it’s evident that his play has been sorely missed on the pitch. Bedoya hopes to put the Union back on the winning track and push them to their ultimate goal.
“In terms of soccer, I’ve already met the guys, been part of the group,” Bedoya said in his introductory press conference. “I think it’s a great group of guys. Hopefully I can help them make a push into the playoffs, and make a run into the playoffs. I’m here for three and a half years, and I hope I can make a big difference and pay Philly the respect back that they’ve given me.”
Bedoya has netted 19 goals in his past three seasons at FC Nantes and has made 53 appearances for the USMNT, including nine in 2016.
Davies scored 10 goals in 33 matches for the Revolution last season. In late April, he discovered he had liposarcoma, a rare form of cancer, after a routine MRI. He’s missed the past three months receiving treatment and announced on July 30 that the cancer is now in remission. He made his Union debut on Saturday, playing 10 minutes, and discussed his new chapter in Philadelphia following the game.
“Obviously it's a quick transition joining a new club, but I'm very excited,” Davies said. “Now it's just about building chemistry. I think my style of play is a little bit different than what they're used to, so I think come playoff time we'll be on the same page and we'll be looking sharp.”
He’ll have very little time to reflect on his time spent in New England as the Revolution (6-9-8) play host to the Union on Saturday. Saturday’s match will air at 7:30 p.m. on The Comcast Network.