Thursday, April 15, 2010
With the World Cup just two months away, Rangers midfielder Maurice Edu says he would be willing to step forward and man the center back position if defender Oguchi Onyewu is still sidelined with an injury.

Onyewu went down with a knee injury in the US' final CONCACAF qualifying match versus Costa Rica last October and his status to be on the field for the June 12th match versus England remains in doubt.

Edu, who played center back for the USMNT at the 2008 Summer Olympics, says he would gladly fill in at Onyewu's regular position should head coach Bob Bradley need a body to replace the AC Milan man.

"I wouldn't have a problem with playing center back if Gooch is still hurt," Edu recently told YA. "I'm the type of person that just wants the team to do well so whatever I need to do to help, I'll do it."

Last month's friendly versus Holland marked Edu's return to international play after an 11 month layoff due to a crippling knee injury that kept him out of last summer's Confederations Cup.

The sensation of putting on a US national team jersey again was an unforgettable one for the former University of Maryland standout.

"It was unbelievable," he said of his USMNT return. "It had almost been a year since I last played with the national team. It almost felt like it was my first game [with the USMNT]. It was good to be back with the squad after missing the Confed Cup since I so wanted to be there and be included."

Edu's return to his club team came two months prior in a late December match versus Hibernian where he was late second half substiute in a 1-4 away victory.

After spending the first several weeks as head coach Walter Smith's first option off the bench, Edu is now regularly slotted in the starting 11, a change he believed would come after he got more games under his belt.

"Ever since I got back I've felt good," he added. "I haven't been thinking about the injury and really haven't had any problems. I think it was just a matter of getting in games."

The US international has excelled this season with the Scottish Premier League leaders by scoring two game-winners, including a scintillating last second goal versus Old Firm rivals Celtic which effectively ended any hopes of the Hoops running down the Light Blues in the league standings.

The poise and composure that Edu has shown over the ball this season has led many to think that he is playing the best soccer of his career, but yet the Fontana, California native holds the viewpoint that it has been his intelligence on the field that has contributed most to his game.

"I can always do better and so no, I don't think I'm at my best," he explained. "I think overall though, I'm a smarter player. I'm seeing the game differently. I'm used to the speed of play now and I have adapted well to the game here in Scotland."

With all the success that Rangers have experienced on the field, a cloud of uncertainty still looms over the club regarding the status of the club's future ownership.

Potential investors have come and gone but a buyer has still not come forward and acquired the debt-ridden club.

As much as Edu wants to keep his attention to matters on the field, he admits that as a player, the takeover talk is difficult to ignore.

"It does concern me a little bit," he said of the club's uncertain ownership status. "It affects us [players] in some ways, but I try to keep my focus on the field. I have no control over what happens and just hope that the takeover is beneficial for everone."

Whomever ends up owning the club will also have the decision of whether or not to maintain Walter Smith as head coach.

Edu is very up front in endorsing his current coach and believes that Smith should be brought back no matter how the takeover shakes out.

"I think Walter has done an unbelievable job and that it would benefit everyone to bring him back," continued Edu. "He was the one who believed in me and brought me here. I think they should keep him."

The last three transfer windows have seen Rangers bypass any new player signings due to the amount of debt that the club has accrued.

But what many viewed as a hindrance, Edu thinks that keeping the same group of players together has actually proven to be a large asset and furthermore, has played a key part in their championship run.

"It's actually helped," Edu said of the lack of new additions. "It brought the team closer together. We know each other well both on and off the field. We're willing to go the extra yard for each other and we fight for each other."

That closeness hit home for the midfielder when he was the victim of racial abuse adminstered by some unruly Rangers fans outside of Ibrox Stadium following a Champions League match last October.

Although police have yet to find the guilty parties, Edu is comforted by the support he has received by the team and fans and believes that Glasgow officials have done their very best over their course of the investigation.

"It was a one-off situation," he discussed. "Obviously no one wanted it to happen. The fans have been supportive and the club and police have done their best to resolve it. It doesn't bother me that they haven't found out who did it. They really did as much as they could."

Two wins in their final six matches will garner a second consecutive SPL championship medal for Edu, an outcome that is all but sure to happen.

Once he has tucked away the SPL title, Edu's thoughts will turn to earning a spot on Bradley's 23 man roster for the World Cup and a date on June 12th with England.

Suiting up against the giants of English soccer is an enticing thought all on its own, but for Edu, taking the field with his close friend and nearly-recovered Charlie Davies would be paramount.

"Charlie's been pushing really hard to be back, " Edu said of his compatriot. "He's so close to doing it. We're all on his side. Charlie has such a strong character and so much passion. You can't tell him no."

So when pressed as to what his dream scenario would be against the Three Lions, Edu makes no bones about who he'd love to see score the game-winner.

"Charlie getting the goal and me getting the assist," he concluded. "That would be perfect."

Edu and Rangers return to action this Sunday when they host Hearts.
Friday April 16, 2010 12:42 am
Steve Cherundolo plays left back for Hannover and for the Nats. He was injured in 2009 but is the most in form US defender outside of Spector who plays interchangeably LB and RB. Steve is a natural lefty and Spector is a natural righty. Remember Spectors crosses to Dempsey against Egypt and Brazil? Pearce is out of form in the MLS. Bornstein has blown his chances with poor penalties. Edu at defensive mid is best choice
Thursday April 15, 2010 11:08 pm
Well Spector prefers to play LB so Dolo could play RB. But boca's play at LB has been pretty good this year. A lot will come down to Gooch, if he's not ready then EDU and Boca are my CB's and Spector and Dolo are on the outside. Last I would not be surprised to see K Alston get a look before all is over. I think at the last camp he was injured.
Thursday April 15, 2010 8:07 pm
Kiernan I agree with ya... but if Bocanegra doesn't have the speed to play outside surely he's a better option at center back than Edu. I'd rather have Boca in the middle and Pearnce/Bornstein/Edu at left back than have Edu in the middle. Edu has barely played for the national... I don't think a world cup game against England is a good time to try him at center back.
Thursday April 15, 2010 7:29 pm
I think Edu could play along side Bocanegra in the center and maybe even try Spector on the left... He i plays on the left often for West Ham, however, I do like his ability to cross the ball form the right. I would then put Cherundolo on the right. What does everyone else think?
Thursday April 15, 2010 7:16 pm
Steve Cherundolo has been doing an amazing job captaining Hannover 96 including a 4-2 victory over league champs Schalke. Its a no-brainer at left back. Steve has the skills, experience, pace, intelligence to troll left back for any nation much less the USA. I say Cherundolo-DeMerit-Bocanegra-Spector back line. This lineup is actually better than having Onyewu I believe because Gooch lacks ball control.
Eddie Wyrwicz
Thursday April 15, 2010 7:15 pm
Why can't we just have Spector on the left and Dolo on the right....
Brad Ewing
Thursday April 15, 2010 6:01 pm
Mo Edu is and should be a vital part of the National team setup. Rather than
sticking Bocanegra on the left, put Edu out there and leave Boca in the middle to lob aimless balls forward. Edu has the pace and crossing ability to be a real threat at the left fullback position. Demerit in the middle and Spector on the right, now that's a decent back line. Granted, I would love for Gooch to get healthy to free Edu up to patrol the midfield.
Thursday April 15, 2010 5:59 pm
Thats very unselfish and noble of Edu to volunteer himself to play CB. However, I doubt he will be needed. Even if Gooch is still out, I still imagine that Chuck Blackmouth, DeMerit, and Goodson would all play CB before Edu.
Thursday April 15, 2010 5:37 pm
First off, he was the best paring with Bradley at the center of the park and he's the closest thing we have to a box to box international DM, so unless Jermaine Jones rises from the dead I think it's a bit of naval gazing to wonder about him playing anywhere else.
Mike Gaire
Thursday April 15, 2010 3:19 pm
Is it only me and Bruce Arena who think Todd Dunivant is the best left back in America? Why does he continue to be ignored? He is only 29!!!

Edu in Central defense is not a terrible move my only concern is his lack of experience at playing in that position. This is not a time for brand new experiments. Let us not forget the disaster that was Beasley at left back! I really don't see what is wrong with Jay deMerit he looks solid enough to me as does Clarence Goodson and Maurice can play in midfield where he has plenty of top quality experience, we have had a procession of players with erratic form in midfield and so Maurice is really needed there.
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