Edu ready to take advantage of his return to the USMNT

Maurice Edu

Photo by John Todd/ISIphotos.com

By FRANCO PANIZO

TEMPE, Ariz. — Maurice Edu is back with the U.S. Men’s National Team for the first time in a year, and he is as excited about it as anyone could imagine.

After an absence that dates back to March 2013, Edu has returned to the U.S. picture with impeccable timing. The World Cup is about two months away and Edu’s chances of playing in his second straight tournament are as high as they have been since he played in a 0-0 World Cup qualifying draw in Mexico on March 26, 2013.

The prospects of now being back in the fray for one of the 23 roster spots for Brazil means a lot to Edu, especially after facing so much uncertainty for the better part of the past year due to his struggles to get onto the field at Stoke City.

“It’s been a little while now and I’ve been eager, I’ve been itching and just waiting for my chance,” said Edu ahead of Wednesday’s friendly against Mexico. “Obviously, I knew it was important just to get back playing with my club team so making the decision to come back (to MLS) was very important to me and as soon as I made that decision I’ve been focused. I’ve been focused knowing that if I’m doing well with my club team I will get the opportunities.

“I’ve just focused all my concentration in helping the Philadelphia Union and starting off the season positively and I’ve been rewarded with this call-up and now I’m just excited to be here and take it from here.”

The 27-year-old Edu has made a smooth transition in joining the Union, who signed him on loan as a Designated Player during the offseason. Edu called the move the “right one” prior to the U.S.’s Monday training session and it is hard to argue that point.

Edu has started in every game so far this season, a drastic change from his time at Stoke, and has proven to be an integral part of John Hackworth’s system in Phladelphia. The central midfielder covers a lot of ground, breaks up plays, brings a physicality and bite that was sorely needed, and even has the freedom to join in on the attack on occasion.

“They’ve made me feel welcome really quickly,” said Edu. “I knew a couple of the guys going into it, so that was good. But it’s a really good group of guys, eager and ambitious. I think we’re going to have a good season. I’m very confident in this group and so far the early signs I’ve been impressed with the guys, their workrates, the stuff they do behind the scenes to make sure they’re fit and ready for the games. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season with them.”

Interestingly enough, Edu is also being counted upon for his wealth of experience. The Union are still a relative young side and the dynamic within the squad has already brought Edu into a leadership role despite him being one of the newest players in the locker room.

Some veterans might see that type of responsibility as a burden given that they are still acclimating to their new surroundings, but not Edu. He has gladly accepted it.

“I welcome those things because I know when I was a younger guy there were certain guys I looked up to on my team,” said Edu. “If I can be that to some of the younger guys and that inspiration for them – them seeing me go away to camp now and hopefully they aspire to do the same thing – and they’ll look at it and say, ‘Mo was rewarded for his play. I want to do the same thing.’ I definitely welcome the responsibility and the leadership role and I’ve enjoyed it thus far.”

U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has noticed Edu’s impact on and off the field for the Union, and that is why he has rewarded Edu with his first U.S. call-up in 12 months. Edu is now hoping to make the most of the opportunity, but he has some serious competition in midfield from the likes of Kyle Beckerman and Danny Williams for a spot on the plane to Brazil.

Still, Edu boasts plenty of qualities and the type of versatility that should give him a good chance of making it there this summer.

“Obviously, (he’s) a guy that has good experience playing in the national team, playing in the World Cup,” midfielder Michael Bradley, who has long played alongside Edu, told SBI. “It’s good to have him back and I think Mo’s a guy who always in the group has a really good way and so I think just having him around is a great thing.”

Perhaps it is fitting that Edu is set to make his U.S. return against Mexico, given the fact it was the last opponent he faced a year ago and one he knows well. Having that chance and being back with the national team clearly means the world to Edu, but not just because of his time away.

“It didn’t take that for me to appreciate it. I’ve always appreciated it,” said Edu. “I’ve always said it’s a humbling experience and something I haven’t and never will take for granted. There’s many great players around this country that don’t get a chance to represent their country and I’m fortunate to have done it and hopefully continue to do it.”

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45 Responses to Edu ready to take advantage of his return to the USMNT

  1. AC says:

    Good to seem him back. Not sure if he will start the game, but he would be more disciplined to cover the back line and let Bradley get forward.

  2. bryan says:

    hopefully he’ll get a good run out. i think Beckerman starts, but getting Edu some minutes should happen.

  3. The Garrincha says:

    Hey Edu, looking good, hope you have been studying up on The Makelele?.

  4. BC says:

    Sorry, I will never get the memories of his complete inability to maintain possession in the last World Cup and cost us goals. Hard worker, but no thanks to Edu in Brazil

    • joshw says:

      You’re making things up. He wasn’t on the field when England scored. He wasn’t on the field when Slovenia scored either of its goals. Algeria did not score. He was not on the field when Ghana scored the first goal. He was on the field for one goal against, the goal the put us out of the tournament in extra time, and that came off of a long ball.

      Actually, we were plus 3 goals with him on the field in 2010. And that’s not counting the one that he put in the net against Slovenia.

      • joshw says:

        Scratch that. Plus two with Edu on – he came off before we scored against Algeria.

        • BC says:

          And you feel confident with him on the ball in the center of the field at the World Cup? As an ex pro, I certainly don’t.

          • Ryan in NYC says:

            “As an ex pro” — what in the world does that have to do with anything? Hahaha – stop playing yourself.

          • josh says:

            Is that Brandi Chastain!?

          • Joamiq says:

            Haha, nice response. Facts showed you were talking out of your @$$, so you played the “ex pro” card. That sure convinced us!

          • joshw says:

            I think Klinsmann said it all. When Edu is playing regularly and in rhythm, he’s a very good player for us. In his best form, he’s tidy on the ball, incredibly mobile, dangerous on set pieces and tremendous defensively. I never played professionally, unless you count a lost year that I spent working as a corporate attorney in Frankfurt during the credit crisis (where my primary contribution to the firm was on pitch), but I believe that he brings a different dynamic to the team than Kyle Beckerman and would be a great insurance policy to have on the bench.

      • RNG says:

        Actually plus 3, with the goal he scored that was incorrectly waved off at the end.

    • Shurls says:

      You are thinking of Ricardo Clark, I believe.

      • The Garrincha says:

        Yeah, I think BC, got Rico Clark on the brain.
        not sure you are talking about Edu,
        for the most part he has shown well for the Nats.

      • Ramon says:

        Don’t even mention that name. Still have nightmares about that trash midfielder.

    • C says:

      Except for the fact that that was nearly 4 years ago, when Edu was just 23 years old. He has progressed significantly from then, with a lot of experience gained in his last several years at Rangers, and even the minimal time he saw in the English PL and Turkey.

      Basing judgments on who should go to Brazil based on what they did in South Africa is ludicrous. That’d be like saying we should take Onyewu to Brazil because he was big and brooding in South Africa (which is not even half the player now that he was back then) or Robbie Findley who was in South Africa but hasn’t received a USMNT call-up since then.

      Players progress. As Garth from Wayne’s World said, “Live in the now!”

    • 1st Time Caller says:

      Are you the same troll who couldn’t tell the difference between Edu and Ricardo Clark on the other board?? Jesus man! Edu was super sub in South Africa and your memory is fading my friend. Everything Joshw wrote is true, look it up. Gah, the ignorance around here is dense.

      • Horsewhistle says:

        +1, but BC says he’s ex-pro,
        which should allow his opinion to nullify all facts.

    • malkin says:

      Something tells me BC is never coming back. Or perhaps switching to his other alias, FRANK.

      (don’t worry Frank, that’s a joke. No disrespect)

  5. Pedro says:

    He’s a good player. I like his versatility and we’re going to need some bite in this group.

  6. Dc says:

    Does anyone else notice how much soccer players and coaches start sentences with the word “obviously”??? Am I the only one that notices this? Every interview video, every written interview, every official statement. Obviously this, obviously that. Obviously.

  7. Four Cents says:

    It should be obvious that Edu won’t start, but I do like him as a sub in this one…

  8. wally_eli says:

    Obviously we should try him at CB.

    • C says:

      Hey, why not? Everybody else has seemed to get a shot back there!

      As much as Klinsi speaks of his pleasure with our player pool depth, I think the back line is the one area that he, quietly to himself, gets pissed that we don’t have a clear depth chart in this valuable area of real estate on the pitch. And we’re running out time to find a clear set of 4 guys that work well together and understand their role, positioning, etc. Thus, we’re stuck with a revolving door of combinations of players.

      Ideally, I’d like to see to something like this for pairings in the back (if all injuries miraculously healed today…):

      Lichaj or Goodson / Besler / Cameron / Parkhurst or Beltrain

  9. Vic says:

    He is a great tackler, has excellent speed, versatility and strong in the air. However, we have plenty of athletic players that can’t hold the ball. Not sure we need another one.

    • 1st Time Caller says:

      Who said Edu can’t hold the ball up well enough? You also forgot his ability in the final third on set pieces and from long range and his sharp passing. Edu is quality and I think given an ample showing in the coming weeks and months and given the choice, many USMNT would prefer him over JJ next to Bradley. I for one wouldn’t bat an eyelash. Heck I would try him in center defense just to get him on the pitch. Besler and Gonzo are not set in stone.

      • C says:

        Totally agree that Edu is a good option in the back line if needed. I woudn’t say he replaces JJ in the midfield offhand as Jones has a good work rate. And his rough & tumble style does help to quickly knock out the physicality of the opponent (particularly teams like Ghana & Costa Rica) trying to throw us off our game with hard play and cheap knocks. Edu doesn’t have quite that physicality but I would much rather have him on the plane as an option than Beckerman. Edu is more versatile in my opinion.

        • Tony says:

          Agreed – I rate him (assuming he’s playing regularly, healthy, etc.) over Beckerman. I actually think he may compliment MikeB better than JJ, since he gives Bradley more freedom to get forward.

          • Vic says:

            Bradley/Edu combo is too defensive.

            • Alec Williams says:

              I completely disagree, if edu plays the destroyer infront of the defense, which is what JJ should do, Bradley excels going forward. Most of Bradley’s best games have come when he is not paired with JJ because he has the freedom to press forward more

      • kevin o says:

        “Who said Edu can’t hold the ball up well enough?”

        Count me as someone saying Edu can’t hold the ball up well enough.

        • nico says:

          Ditto. “Edu can’t hold or pass the ball well enough.”

          Edu’s a ball winner. But ideally the defensive midfielder role is about a lot more than that. Shape, discipline, circulating the ball.

          Some day the heavens will open and we will get an American version of Sergio Biscuits.

  10. Ryan in NYC says:

    Well it’s either gonna be Mo or DWilliams. One of them is going – certainly not both, which one would you rather have on that plane?

    • user222 says:

      I’d take an inform Williams over Edu.. Williams is faster and more physical and same as Edu when holding the ball….

      But Williams got injured in our last friendly has been recovering, he needs another 3 weeks to get back to form…. unfortunately, as of now both Edu and Beckerman are ahead of Williams.

    • The Garrincha says:

      Mo Edu over Williams, All day, all Night.
      As many have pointed out his versatility and experience at this point is far more valuable.
      Like I once said Green is like getting Shea/Adu in one.
      with Edu You get a Beckerman/Williams hybrid with Defensive line flexibility thrown in to boot.
      I actually think Edu could play just about any position on the back line if needed.

  11. josh says:

    One thing that I have been thinking is that it would be good to bring serious depth at D-mid, as it would be nice to have some yellow card cushion in that area. Having just a little more freedom to break down attacks knowing that we aren’t screwed if one guy is suspended.

    Not advocating dirty play, just saying that the chances are high that we are going to have to play a lot of desperation defense given our opponents. And someone like JJ may need to make it unappealing to run at our back four.

  12. Murray Braun says:

    Think Edu will make the Brazil trip; Beckerman and Williams will stay home.
    Bradley and Edu very similar to Bradley and Jones.
    Diskerud is the sub for Bradley?
    We have a shaky team this time, especially the center backs, but those four central MF’s are our best hope for positive results at the WC.

    • The Garrincha says:

      This is not to say Beckerman, does not have real value.
      Not sexy, but he plays contained and completely within himself.
      Never was enamored by his measurements etc
      but he is solid and fairly reliable.
      He makes Brazil, at least on the 30 man reserve.

    • malkin says:

      Did you just use “Bradley” and “sub” in the same sentence?

      ::head explodes::

  13. Big Red says:

    Edu is finally getting to show in the same league he is superior to Bradley. It’s nice to have him and Jones as Champions League midfielders.

    • Joe says:

      Sorry but in no way shape or form is Edu at Bradley’s level. MB is our best field player at the moment, and he is absolutely critical to the success of the MNT. Edu hasn’t played in a year and we’ve been just fine. Our team takes a step back whenever MB is not in the lineup.

      I like Edu and I think he could earn a spot on this team, but for Def. Midfielders he’s behind Bradley, Jones, Beckerman, and D. Williams. I might be forgetting others. We’re not short on defensive midfielders. Edu is a good player but he’s prone to giveaways and has brief lapses in judgment.

  14. Tim S. says:

    I finally came around a bit on Beckerman when Bradley was a no-go against Mexico in Columbus. As one other poster said, he is not sexy but has earned his way onto the plane in Brazil. That said, i hope he does not actually have to be on the field in Brazil, but would be good cover if he is needed.

    I have always like Edu, as well, and hope he makes the plane over Danny Williams. Williams has been too inconsistent playing himself onto, then off of his club team and national team too often. He had a couple of good showings in the qualifying semifinals (Jamaica game in Columbus, if I remember it right???), but the versatility Edu brings, especially with some of the shaky efforts by our backup pool of CBs, I am hoping he gets the call.