BRIAN SCIARETTA - Thursday, June 17, 2010
As the US prepares for their crucial second game at the World Cup on Friday, midfielder Maurice Edu feels honored to represent his country in South Africa and is determined to take advantage of the special opportunity.
"We have good team camaraderie," Edu told YA on Wednesday. "We all get along with each other really well. It's one of the experiences I won't forget for the rest of my life. We know how big of an opportunity this is and how big of a privilege it is for all of us. We don't take that for granted whatsoever and we don't take it lightly. We put our all into every game."
Edu, 24, is excited to be on this team not only because it gives him a chance to play in the World Cup but also because they have a chance to succeed there and be part of something special.
"It's a team effort right now," noted the former Maryland Terrapin. "We came into this tournament with a goal in mind and now we are looking to make this journey into something special."
Having a successful World Cup is career priority for most of the players in the whole tournament. For American players, however, a strong performance in the tournament has added meaning in that it help significantly grow the sport within the US.
"I think right now we have a chance to do something special," Edu discussed. "We have good support right now but if we do something special here, that is only going to help the reputation of the game back home and help it to grow."
Growing up in Fontana, California, Edu played several different sports growing up but soccer was his passion. His goal was to be a professional player and he far surpassed that goal having starred in MLS before moving on to Glasgow Rangers where he has helped lead the club to its second straight Scottish Premier League championship.
"I got into it at young age and I instantly fell in love with it," Edu recalled. "I played other sports but this is what I fell in love with and I stuck with it. In my head I always envisioned playing professional soccer so I worked towards that my whole life."
Edu is now part of 2010 World Cup in which the USMNT is making its sixth straight appearance at the sport's biggest tournament. In 1990, it was a far cry from what it is now when few people followed the team as it played at its first World Cup in 40 years.
With interest growing every year in the US and this year's tournament already registering impressive television ratings, Edu is confident that continued success by the US team could push the sport to the popularity that currently exists in Europe and South Africa.
"I can see it happening, just not overnight," Edu analyzed. "It's going to be a gradual progression that is going to take time. Things that are going to factor into that happening are success with the MLS and the national team doing well. I think last year the results we had at the Confederations Cup was a good step in the right direction."
Edu will hope to feature in the team's second game against Slovenia on Friday. While he did not take part in the team's opening game draw against England, Edu did have family in the stands. Unlike 20 years ago at the tournament in Italy, the US had incredible fan support that rivaled in numbers the traditional huge traveling contingent of the English national team.
Edu, along with the rest of his American teammates, is appreciative of those who have made the journey to South Africa as well as to those watching intently back in the US.
"The support has been good," Edu concluded. "I was talking to my mom and my brother who are here. They said in the stands it was unbelievable in terms of the support we had. I talk to some friends back home and they say there is quite a buzz going on back in the States with US Soccer. The support we are getting is tremendous and that's hats off to the American fans. We really appreciate that."