It seems more often than not that soccer players growing up in the United States are looking to further their careers internationally. Leagues like the Champions League and various Premier League’s seem to hold the biggest and brightest names in soccer who’re playing on the largest stage.
But after having his shot to play under the bright lights for top clubs like the GlasgowRangers and Stoke City in Europe, defensive midfielder Maurice Edu saw something growing back in his home country.
After a six-year hiatus, he’s back in the MLS and has helped the Union (1-0-1) start off their 2014 campaign on the right foot.
“It’s really good to be back,” said Edu. “When I left I always had the intention and desire to come back at some point to help further soccer’s popularity in America. While I’ve been gone the league has made tremendous strides in terms of growth, the quality of play and in pretty much every other way you can imagine. I’m hoping to add to that growth and I’m excited for this opportunity.”
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Edu spent two seasons with Toronto FC before packing his bags for Europe. He was named the MLS Rookie of the Year in 2007. While in Europe, he won two Scottish Premier League Cups with the GlasgowRangers in 2010 and 2011.
This season, he’s trying to fill the defensive and leadership void left by captain Jeff Parke who was traded by the Union in the offseason.
“Being in a leadership role is something that I’ve welcomed here with the Union and something that I’m excited about moving forward,” said Edu. “I like to be able to lead by example, but I’ve also worked on being more vocal on the pitch and let guys feed off of the experience I have. I do whatever I can to help this team win.”
Edu, whose also registered 45 appearances for the U.S. National Team, thinks this Union team is built for success. He’s been impressed by his teammates in practice.
“I’ve been very impressed with the work ethic and the desire of the guys on this team,” said Edu. “Most guys are in early and doing the things that they need to do to be better players. Things like this are what’s going to make us achieve our goals. On the pitch we’ll be a lot more competitive and prepared from that extra work that’s put in. That’s what makes a successful team.”
The Union next face the Columbus Crew (1-0-0) Saturday night at 6 p.m. The game will be aired on the Comcast Network.