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Where new Philadelphia man Maurice Edu ranks among MLS defensive midfielders

Jan 27, 2014, 10:04 PM EST

Portrait of US player Maurice Edu taken

Now that U.S. international Maurice Edu is in place at Philadelphia’s PPL Park, let’s find his place among MLS defensive midfielders.

He’s got to be top five, at very least, right? Even if you don’t think the once-and-again MLS man is quite there, I would wager that he will be top two or three in the league in most minds by the end of the year, assuming he can shake some of the Stoke City rust. (Edu played once over the last 18 or so months for Stoke, although he did get few good games while on loan in Turkey last year.)

A couple of things to note here:

First, Michael Bradley will not appear on this list. He’s not a defensive midfielder, not strictly speaking, anyway. He may line up as one at BMO Field out of organizational necessity, but Toronto FC manager Ryan Nelsen is no dummy. He knows that Bradley’s top utility comes as a linking man, a two-way presence who knows just when to insert himself into the opposition penalty area.

Similarly, Edu may not be a holding midfielder at PPL Park, where Brian Carroll has owned the spot. It’s possible that Edu plays slightly ahead of Carroll in a more advanced central role.

All that said, here is where I’d put Edu in the ranking of MLS holding midfielders going into the 2014 preseason.

1. Kyle Beckerman, Real Salt Lake

2. Osvaldo Alonso, Seattle Sounders

3. Maurice Edu, Philadelphia Union

4. Dax McCarty, New York Red Bulls

5. Patrice Bernier, Montreal Impact

  1. dfstell - Jan 27, 2014 at 10:45 PM

    Just curious…..are your #1 and #2 really more of a 1 and 1A? I don’t seem much distance between the two of them.

    • Steve Davis - Jan 28, 2014 at 1:52 AM

      That’s absolutely fair. As you say, not much room at all between these two. I thought Beckerman elevated his game last year, whereas Alonso started a little slowly (but was the old Alonso toward the end).

  2. talgrath - Jan 27, 2014 at 11:24 PM

    Okay, leaving aside that I don’t think Beckerman belongs in the top spot, putting Edu in there is downright criminal. At this point, Edu is a big fat question mark, he could reignite his career or he could go down in flames, burning to nothing. It is way to premature to mark Edu in the top five in MLS and it’s downright insane to put him before known quantity Dax McCarty who does very, very well for the Red Bulls..

    • Steve Davis - Jan 28, 2014 at 1:54 AM

      I respect your opinion. And there is certainly some “benefit of the doubt” being handed to Edu. But I think his past performance at TFC, plus his regular role at Rangers is enough to provide the benefit of the doubt. Let’s do this: how about we circle back in six months and see who was right, eh?

      • talgrath - Jan 28, 2014 at 9:38 PM

        Agreed. Honestly, it’s probably going to get discussed sooner than that, given the fee he’s getting from Philly.

  3. geojock - Jan 28, 2014 at 9:11 AM

    A bit off the radar, but HM might go to Amobi Okugo.

    • geojock - Jan 28, 2014 at 9:13 AM

      Ironically the man that may be replaced (or at least bump around) with the arrival of Edu.

      • judgereed - Jan 28, 2014 at 1:32 PM

        I can assure you there is no way Okugo is going anywhere. He may move but he will not be leaving this team. He was one of the best players last year…

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