On the final day of the Major League Soccer transfer window, the Union made a major splash by signing U.S. national team midfielder Alejandro Bedoya as a designated player.
Bedoya comes from the French club Nantes. While the Union would not reveal the terms of the deal, ESPN reported the team paid a $1 million transfer fee and Bedoya will receive a $1 million annual salary. His contract with Nantes was to run through the 2018-2019 season.
A Union source said those figures were close to accurate, and confirmed that the deal is for three-and-a-half years. So this is a long-term commitment by the team.
"It is with great pleasure that I can finally say I will have a chance to play in the MLS," Bedoya wrote on Twitter. "I couldn't be happier to be joinng an organization like Philadelphia... The club has made strides to become a contender and it is what convinced me that it would be a great fit."
In addition to agreeing to the transfer fee, the Union had to make a trade with the Chicago Fire, who had first dibs on signing an American star who decides to come home from abroad.
The Fire had first shot since they owned the No. 1 allocation spot after compiling the worst MLS record last year.
The Union traded to Chicago general allocation money, targeted allocation money, the club's natural first-round pick in the 2017 MLS draft, and the discovery priority on a player to be named in exchange for the No. 1 spot.
A published report listed the allocation money at $175,000, but a Union source said it is much lower and most of it is targeted allocation money.
Whatever the sum is, the Union likely made a good chunk of it back with a late-night deal that sent fan favorite Sébastien Le Toux to the Colorado Rapids.
Le Toux, 32, is the Union's all-time leading goal scorer. In two stints with the team, he totaled 50 of his career 56 MLS goals. He was also the franchise's first all-star, earning the honor in the Union's inaugural season in 2010.
"Sebastien has been a wonderful servant to the Philadelphia Union and we cannot thank him enough for his exemplary time and commitment," Union sporting director Earnie Stewart said in a statement. "We want to wish him the best of luck in Colorado and in his future endeavors."
Coincidentally, the Rapids also have two other Union players on their roster: goalkeeper Zac MacMath and midfielder Zach Pfeffer.
Le Toux's departure helps clear up the Union's midfield logjam. It could also could free Bedoya to play some on the right wing, one of many positions where he has flourished.
The 6-foot, 160-pound Bedoya, turned 29 in April. He played all four games for the United States in the 2014 World Cup, making three starts.
More recently, he excelled during the Copa America tournament as the Americans made a run to the semifinals. His primary role there was as a central attacking midfielder, but he earned the most praise for his strong defensive work.
"Alejandro is a Philadelphia mentality guy and he checks every box," Union coach Jim Curtin said during a news conference Wednesday.
A product of Englewood, N.J., Bedoya has played his entire professional career in Europe and had been with Nantes since 2013. Before then, he played in Sweden and in Scotland.
"It was not easy to make the decision to leave Europe after playing and living here for 9 years," Bedoya wrote. "I'm eagerly anticipating the opportunity to play with & against friends and great players in the MLS with my family and friends having the chance to watch my games."
During the 2011-12 season, he played at Rangers with current Union designated player Maurice Edu, who has yet to play this season because of a stress fracture in his left leg.
"Alejandro is a good player and anybody who has seen him play with the national team, with his club teams, they know technically he is a good player. He works hard on both sides of the ball," Edu said after practice. "He can create play for himself and for other players."
Edu expects more of the same with the Union.
"On any team he plays for, he has shown he is a quality player, a dynamic player and a player who can impact a team," Edu said.
The Union (8-8-6) have gone 1-4-1 in their last six MLS games. They are fourth in the MLS Eastern Division, where the top six teams will qualify for the postseason.
"He gives us a boost at the right moment, where we do need a little boost," Curtin said.
Curtin wouldn't rule out Bedoya's playing Saturday at D.C. United.
"It is not out of the question," Curtin said.
The Union coach wasn't certain when Bedoya would arrive in Philadelphia, but he said the entire team is excited about the deal.
"The bar has been raised on all levels here," Curtin said. " ... We have added a very good player to what is already a very strong team.