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A Philadelphia Union blog hosted by Christopher A. Vito and Matthew De George

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Mo praise: Even when suspended, Edu having an impact on Union

Always a consistent performer, the Union's
Maurice Edu is becoming more and more of a leader.
As training wound down next to PPL Park Thursday morning, the first question from the small group of media gathered was obvious: Was Maurice Edu hurt?

While other players worked on shooting drills or broke into small groups for games that double as first-touch lessons, Edu was off to the side with injured rookie Eric Bird, running timed sprints.

Outwardly, it appeared to be a sign of an injury, a minor tweak perhaps in the first half against AFC Bournemouth Tuesday.

But Edu wasn’t injured. With the defender suspended from Saturday’s game at Toronto, Edu was just putting in extra fitness work, voluntarily.

“I love seeing that,” Union manager Jim Curtin said. “I didn’t make him do that, but again, that’s a sign of his growth. That’s not something that he’s done in the past. For him to do that, I didn’t tell him to. I didn’t force him to. He did it on his own. It shows me that he has a real ambition even on a week where he’s not going to play.”

Edu has long drawn praise from members of the Union staff, last year in his loan stint from English Premier League club Stoke City and this season in making the switch permanent and essentially being installed as the captain. But the plaudits have intensified lately, especially from Curtin, who sees Edu blossoming into the leader that a young team like the Union requires.
It’s particularly evident this week, for the wrong reasons, with Edu suspended for a second time this season due to yellow-card accumulation. But Edu’s willingness to put in the extra work Thursday introduces a positive spin to his presence.

Curtin will grant Edu’s request to travel with the team to Toronto, the club which drafted Edu first overall in the 2007 SuperDraft and the springboard from which Edu launched his European career with Scottish club Glasgow Rangers in the summer of 2008, so that the coach has an added veteran voice in the party.

All season, Curtin has deemed Edu the team’s most consistent performer, stabilizing a backline that still struggles on occasion but seems more composed with Edu.

Curtin has urged Edu to limit his fouling, which has accounted for both suspensions this season – the first after four yellows, the current one after seven, with the next possible after 10. But the manager also defends his central defender when he feels the calls aren’t correct, as in the latest yellow, a tackle on Portland’s Diego Valeri where it appeared Edu clearly won the ball.

Those little details hardly dampen Curtin’s praise for Edu, and the former defender will always condone errors made in the name of aggressiveness.

“Mo’s been our best player this year, from Game 1 on,” Curtin said. “On and off the field, he’s done a great job for us. … Listen, any good center back in our league that plays a lot of games is going to have a suspension or two during the year. If not, you’re kind of soft. He’s done a good job for us.”

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