Alejandro Bedoya does most of his work during games away from the spotlight. But when the Union face the Montreal Impact, Bedoya is right in the middle of the fray.
Bedoya and Impact star playmaker Ignacio Piatti have staged some great duels in recent seasons. There could be another Saturday at Talen Energy Stadium (7 p.m., PHL17), with the Union in fifth place and Montreal fighting to hold onto the last playoff spot.
"I like him. We go at it with each other on the field," Bedoya said. "It's just battling on the field: Whenever there's a whistle blowing, a break in the game, we're always talking and kind of catching up a little bit. He's a great player, he's one of the best in the league, and going to battle with him is a pleasure."
Listen in on them and you'll hear plenty of banter in Spanish. Piatti, an Argentina native, came from famed club San Lorenzo. Bedoya's parents emigrated to America from Colombia.
Perhaps their most memorable battle came in April of last year. In the teams' 3-3 tie at Talen Energy Stadium, Piatti scored late in the first half, starting a comeback from a 3-0 deficit. Bedoya won a one-on-one showdown in the second half, and after the game unleashed a heap of choice words about the collapse.
He hasn't forgotten about that day.
"I was really [annoyed] when he scored against us," Bedoya said. "Ever since then, we've just been going at it."
The matchup is a natural fit on the field. Piatti creates from his left flank, and Bedoya tends to play toward his right.
"My job is always to help cover for our right back or our right winger, so I'm always going to be there," Bedoya said. "Whoever wins the battle on that side of the field is going to probably win the game, because Montreal goes so much through him. And I know for us, I feel like our right side is always creating stuff."
With seven games to go in the season (plus the U.S. Open Cup final), the finish line is visible on the horizon. But Bedoya isn't looking too far ahead, since the next two weeks include road trips to Seattle, Houston, and Columbus.
"We're far from achieving anything," he said. "We haven't made the playoffs yet, and we haven't won the trophy in the U.S. Open Cup. … The spirits are high, the morale is good, but we've just got to keep it going and not get too overconfident."
Saturday, 7:30 p.m. at Talen Energy Stadium
Union's record: 12-11-4, 40 points (5th in the East); 7-4-2 at home
Montreal's record: 11-14-3, 36 points (6th in the East); 2-10-2 on the road
Series history: Union 4 wins, Montreal 7 wins, 6 ties
At Philadelphia: Union 2 wins, Montreal 1 win, 5 ties
M Ignacio Piatti: He's having another stellar season, with 13 goals and nine assists. If the Impact make the playoffs, will Piatti finally get the MVP consideration he has long deserved?
D Bacary Sagna: The former Arsenal, Manchester City, and French national team defender joined the Impact in August, and hasn't taken long to fit in well.