Toronto FC and US International midfielder/Olympic central defender Maurice Edu appears set to join Scottish Premier League side Glasgow Rangers for £2.7 million (a little over $5 million). Apparently Rangers was interested in the former University of Maryland standout at the end of last year, but MLS was not ready to sell. Once Rangers approached a second time, MLS was ready to relinquish his rights. Oddly coincidental that Edu was at the top of his game at the end of last season, but he has been a bit inconsistent this year for Toronto, at times trying to do too much. Once his form became spotty, MLS listened to transfer offers. One has to wonder if the same will happen with FC Dallas forward Kenny Cooper.
To me, Edu always seemed like more of a pure central midfielder than a defensive midfielder. He is comfortable on the ball, has good pace, and passes well. He isn’t quite sure enough defensively for his role to be mainly defensive (he looked decent at center back in the Olympics, but his tackling wasn’t strong enough and he’s only 6’0, which hinders his aerial ability). It will be interesting to see how Rangers end up employing him.
As far as another top American going abroad (Canada doesn’t qualify as “abroad”), I’m conflicted. American players certainly come back from Europe with a better understanding of the training required to be top professionals, as they get much better training across the Atlantic than they ever would in the United States, and their eventual returns to MLS strengthen the quality of play in the league. However, MLS needs to be an atmosphere where top American players can reach their full potential in a domestic league, rather than one that cultivates prospects whose talents are refined abroad. As the previous generation of top Yanks returns to the U.S. (Eddie Lewis, Pat Noonan, Cory Gibbs, Josh Wolff, Kasey Keller), the newest generation continues to garner attention from abroad (Edu, Cooper, and the growing number of players who reject MLS contracts after being drafted, like Dominic Cervi and Michael Vedeira).
Kudos to Dallas for standing up and refusing to sell Cooper, it’s too bad Toronto wouldn’t do the same, but understandable that Edu, the first player chosen in the 2007 MLS Superdraft, would want to improve his game in the SPL. He’ll be a real asset to the US National Team if he can become a little more mature and consistent.