Home Global Game CONCACAF Maurice Edu enjoyed his return to his old BMO Field stomping grounds

Maurice Edu enjoyed his return to his old BMO Field stomping grounds

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A lot has changed for Maurice Edu from the last time he stepped onto the pitch at BMO Field. It was the summer of 2008 and he was in the thick of his sophomore campaign with Toronto FC after he had just come off being named the 2007 MLS Rookie of the Year.

But there he was on Sunday night, coming on as a substitute for the U.S. in the second half of a scoreless draw against Canada. When he came on for Landon Donovan in the 73rd minute there was no loud applause or cheer — perhaps the city’s soccer fans had forgotten all about him or maybe it was because he was playing for the opposition.

Regardless of the reaction it was still a special moment for Edu to be back in the city where his professional soccer career began.

“It was great. I loved it,” said Edu after the match. “I have nothing but great memories from playing here and I was looking forward to it.

“It was great walking out there and just being back here and playing on grass now so it was a good game. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the result we wanted but it was definitely a good experience being here again.”

His play with the Reds as well as the U.S. U-23 and senior national teams caught the eye of the Glasgow Rangers of the Scottish Premier League in ‘08. That summer Rangers Manager Walter Smith had contacted then TFC coach Mo Johnston about players in the MLS and Edu’s was one of names mentioned that could make the jump overseas. The Scottish club subsequently made a successful bid and signed the midfielder away from MLS.

Although it has been a long time since he left TFC, Edu still tries to keep track of his old club whenever he can.

“Yeah I try as much as I can to follow online. It’s always hard to catch the games but I watch the results and try to keep tabs on the team as much as possible,” said Edu. “I’m hoping they can go on a run of games and get some wins and make a push for the playoffs because I know this city would go crazy if that happened.

“This is a city that’s really passionate about the game and I think they deserve it. I know for a fact if they made the playoffs the city would just explode and be great for all parties involved.”

Edu did not play regularly when he first arrived in Glasgow playing in just 24 games in his first two years with the club. But he has had a successful run the last two seasons featuring as a regular starter in the Rangers line-up playing 36games in all competitions in 2010/11 and 37 matches in 2011/12.

However, his future with the Rangers is now uncertain. The club is in amidst troubled times financially and is currently battling administration, which is the equivalent of bankruptcy. He has openly acknowledged that he could have left the club over lost wages in mid-season but decided to stay and remain loyal to the team that brought him to Europe.

No decision has been made about whether he will stay with Glasgow for next season or not and would only say that it’s “still up in the air.” Whatever happens, Edu’s preference at the moment is to remain in Europe and to keep playing at the highest level.

But he would not rule out an eventual return to the MLS, namely TFC whom he still holds in high regard.

“Can’t rule it out,” said Edu. “It’s the place that gave me my start in my career and it’s a possibility that I can’t definitely rule out.

“Toronto FC has always been a club that I will always have a lot of respect for and always hold in high regard and high esteem because they gave me my start to my career and they were the ones that allowed me and helped me to get the stage where I’m at now.”

For now his focus remains on helping the U.S. national team to advance out of the third round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying beginning with the match against Antigua and Barbuda on Friday and Jamaica on June 12.

“Yeah the friendlies are always important because they always prepare you for the qualifiers but at the end of the day, these are now the more important games that will have more significance so it’s important to go into these fresh and really prepared and focused on and getting wins in both of these games.”

As for the match against Antigua, the U.S. will be in a similar boat as Canada who knows very little about its first opponent Cuba. Edu believes that if his team is able to stick to its game plan then everything else will take care of itself.

“If we can go into the next game against Antigua taking the positives from those (friendly) results I think we should be on the right track,” said Edu. “It’s always hard when you play against a team that you’re not too familiar with but we just got to go out there and show them respect but in the same breath just play our game, do the things we do well and just work hard as a team.”

“At the end of the day if we’re able to do that, it’s a game we should go into confident and believe we can get a win out of.”

 

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