At MLS Media Day in Los Angeles today, Philadelphia Union midfielder Maurice Edu was asked about a variety of subjects from his new contract, his new boss, and getting back into the United States National Team picture.
When asked why he extended his contract with the Philadelphia Union and MLS, Edu said he always said he was excited to come back, and he meant it. He noted that last year was up and down in terms of performance, but the club had "glimpses (where we) showed of being one of the top teams - and beating the top teams as well." Cites US Open Cup Final as a highlight of that. Enjoyed his experience and helping the club grow. Edu admited there was uncertainty about coming back at points, but "ultimately I made my stance pretty clear, and it was just about working out the details."
He went on to say that "Last season's behind us. Hopefully we learned from that. Ultimately it's a new season with a new outlook, new objective, new goals." and that he expects the East to be very competitive this season.
When asked "Center back or midfield?", his response was "I plead the fifth" followed by a bit of a chuckle. "I don't make those decisions. I just go out there and train, play hard, whatever role I'm asked to play and if it's going to be beneficial to the team, that's where I'll play." When asked if he had a preference, he admitted he was most comfortable playing midfield since that's where he'd played his whole career, but acquiesced saying that he was more and more comfortable as the season went on.
Edu says that new Union manager Jim Curtin had a good relationship with the players as an assistant, which helped when he made the transition to manager. Edu said the players not only knew him as a coach, but also by what he accomplished as a player in MLS and he felt there was a "mutual respect between him and the players, and that helped tremendously" during the change. Says the offseason will allow Curtin time to implement what he wants to do and his style of play on the club, and that he will use the preseason to help build on that so that at the start of the season the players will know the direction that the club wants to head in.
Edu says that his experiences in Europe were "invaluable" for his growth as a player for both the highs and lows. Says that dealing with that and being away from home and on your own, you find strength in yourself and it builds character, and you grow as a person - and not only as a player. He says it "shaped me into who I am today" and he feels better prepared for different situations in MLS. He wants to help the younger guys and feels that it's his role to help show them the way and how to fulfill their potential.
About his time with Stoke City, he said that was very difficult and that he just remained true to himself. "You sometimes can do everything in your power to get into a team. You can be the first guy to show up at training and the last guy to leave, working hard, doing everything you can to put yourself into as best a position as you can to play, and you're still not in the coach's plans. It's about staying mentally strong and preparing yourself for the next one."
Edu went on to say that while he wants to return to the National Team picture, he's more focused on Philadelphia. Says the USMNT is still something he aspires to, and he feels like the best thing he can do to get back into the picture is to start strong in Philly. He admits he hasn't talked to National Team coach Jurgen Klinsmann in a while.
He also said there's been a lot of change in MLS since he was here last. Points out the academy system specifically, and says that the Union's Academy as one "that they put a lot of emphasis on." Points out the residency program with school and training all day as something that's helping to build the league and improve the quality of the play.
Edu and the Union will start training camp on Monday, January 26 at YSC Sports in Wayne, PA.