Bocanegra and Edu set for high-profile matches

Maurice Edu (Reuters) 

by GIANFRANCO PANIZO

While this weekend's slate of games contains several Americans in action, the two most intriguing fixtures involving Americans Abroad come on Saturday when Carlos Bocanegra and Maurice Edu play in what will arguably be the biggest matches of their club careers.

Bocanegra and Rennes will be looking for hardware in the Coupe de France final against Guingamp while Maurice Edu and Rangers host Celtic in the final Old Firm match-up of the season, one that will most likely determine this season's Scottish league champion.

After an impressive start to the season which saw them constantly in the top four teams of the French league, Rennes and Bocanegra have plunged down the standings, dropping all the way to 7th place. With first place clearly out of sight, and with next season's European competition further distancing itself with each passing week (4th place team in the French league qualifies for next season's UEFA Cup), the Coupe de France is Rennes' last shot to save face on what was once thought out to be a promising season.

Rennes defeated Grenoble 1-0 in the semifinals of the Coupe de France and will meet with Guingamp, of France's second division on Saturday. While the red and blacks are considered heavy favorites, Bocanegra and the rest of Rennes' defense must contain a pesky attack that has had a knack for knocking in late goals throughout the tournament's knockout stages. A win on Saturday will not only secure a trophy, but also a berth in the Europa League (the new name for the UEFA Cup starting next season).

While Edu and Rangers' game with nemesis Celtic isn't a tournament final like Bocanegra's match, the Old Firm will probably be the decider in who wins this season's Scottish league. Just as it has for much of the season, Rangers trails Celtic in the standings but are within a point of claiming first place from the hoops with four matches left to play.

Edu, who has recently put together a string of impressive performances for the Glasgow giants, is likely to be a starter on Saturday in what would be his first taste of one of Europe's biggest rivalries.

Edu has played in front of the rabid fan base at BMO Field during his Toronto FC days, but that will not compare to the pressure he will feel when he lines up in front of 51,000+ at Ibrox against the likes of crafty midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura, who has scored eight goals and assisted on ten this season. If Edu can help stifle Nakamura and the rest of Celtic's attack, then Rangers would be one step closer to winning the Scottish league, a task they have not accomplished since the 2004-2005 season.

With so much on the line this weekend, Bocanegra and Edu will need strong performances in the biggest matches of their club careers if they both want to end their 2008-2009 seasons on a positive note as well as with some hardware for their trophy cabinets.

What do you think of Bocanegra and Edu's marquee matches on Saturday? Do you see them both prevailing? Will either of them find the back of the net? Are you going to be watching both games?

Share your thoughts below.

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21 Responses to Bocanegra and Edu set for high-profile matches

  1. CSD says:

    GIANFRANCO,

    Thanks for discussing the importance of some of the matches that US players are playing in abroad this weekend. I am excited for both players and the experience should be great for both of them. It would be nice to see some more Americans abroad secure some hardware.

  2. Michael Vann says:

    I know Boca can handle the pressure thus is no issue and no concern that he won’t rise to the challenge. He will be vital for Rennes salvaging a late season tank which has been attributed to little offensive punch. My focus this weekend will be on the Old Firm. How Edu reacts and plays under the pressure will define his upcoming role with the US. We need to see him tested and there is no better way to be tested than playing at Parkhead. It’s going to be an intense nasty battle that both clubs will be fully engaged. I can’t wait to see it.

  3. Gilby says:

    Does the Coupe De France winner get a Europa cup spot?

  4. Chase says:

    Forget Europe’s biggest rivarly, this ranks among the world’s greatest sporting rivalries…

  5. jtd says:

    every time i see that photo of edu, i mistake his legs for tree trunks.

  6. Igor says:

    Does the Coupe De France winner get a Europa cup spot?

    Posted by: Gilby | May 08, 2009 at 01:20 PM

    Yes.

  7. MiamiAl says:

    This is the only game worth watching in that hack em up league…MLS is better than SPL…Edu should get out of there as soon as he can…Beasley was soooo stupid for joining that league in first place, especially with his propensity for getting injured…

  8. RK says:

    Will either of the games be on FSC? Goltv?

  9. Ho0ps says:

    its really too bad edu has to be playing on the wrong side of glasgow. Love to root for edu but cant rule for a bunch of orangemen…Here we go again, we are on the road again, we’re on the road again we are on way to Paradise….

  10. Rekro says:

    Can’t wait to see Rangers vs Celtic.

    It kinda sucks that the game’s a 4 am here on the west coast.

    @RK

    Rangers match will be on Setanta, don’t know about Rennes.

  11. Igor says:

    I think Coupe de France final is also on Setanta, but since I don’t get it, I don’t know for sure.

  12. Isaac says:

    The Scottish Premier league is perfect for Edu. He plays the aggressive, ball-winning, gritty way that Scottish football is used to. However, there seems to be a bit of a finesse about Edu going forward. In games like the Guatemala away game when there was little time on the ball and the other teams defense was rough Edu stepped up and showed the control, composure and ball skill that was needed. I think he’s the next Claudio Reyna or Eddie Pope. He’s perfect for Rangers and even though I’m a Celtic fan, I wish him the best performance.

  13. Sean Monaghan says:

    hopefully Edu isnt up for the occacsion(I’m a celtic fan), he won’t play in front of a more passionate crowd in his life

  14. hokieunited says:

    hopefully Edu isnt up for the occacsion(I’m a celtic fan), he won’t play in front of a more passionate crowd in his life

    Posted by: Sean Monaghan | May 08, 2009 at 03:54 PM

    Thats nice to see you rate the Rangers home fans that highly. But I think he has played at Ibrox before — should be nothing new for him (minus the energy of the derby game itself).

    He should be able to cope with his own home fans just fine.

  15. MikeK says:

    His own home fans aren’t just any group of people. They’re Scotland’s Shame.

    The bhoys will win, 2-1.

  16. Matt says:

    The last comment was spoken like a true “fan”(-atic”). classy…..

  17. DC Josh says:

    It’s great Edu has gone from a fringe player to a consistent contributor to the team. I hope he is in the starting XI again today in a game that will certainly get his panties in a bunch. I don’t see how he doesn’t get on the MNT roster in a few weeks for June.

    Boca will hopefully contain the right side of attack from the opposition.

    I may have to fork over the dollars to watch the old firm since Edu is playing.

  18. DC Josh says:

    Just joking, the game is in the 70th minute.

  19. DC Josh says:

    Gers win, Edu goes the full 90.

  20. Kizz says:

    @ Igor,
    Setanta has the rights to Ligue 1 and not French Cup. The game is on French TV and the top leagues in Europe get a Europa spot for their Cup winners. Also we should learn to call it Europa League not UEFA Cup Gianfranco.

    @ RK,
    Unfortunately Gol TV or FSC don’t have the rights to French football (Ligue 1 or French Cup) which would be great if they did.

  21. STEVIE G says:

    rangers win one nil edu played a blinder, looks like the league title coming home to stay with its 51 brothers, for the guy who said beasley shouldnt of come to scotland hes
    right rangers should never have signed him he is crap to lightweight, edu however is a good player who will be playing champions league football next season, what other american players will be playing champ league ?

    HELLO HELLO WE ARE THE BILLY BOYS,
    GET IT UP YE YA TIMS