After weeks of rumor, vague "Internet reports" and a likely disagreement with Major League Soccer over money, the Philadelphia Union finally got their man.
Yes, the team finally finished off the deal for 27-year-old midfielder Maurice (or "Mo") Edu on Monday, and marked it by unveiling a surprisingly awesome Twitter hashtag, #MOTownPhilly. Edu will be unveiled today at 12:30 p.m. at the team's training facility in Wayne (it will be aired live online at this link). Expect him to hold up a jersey, wear a scarf, and everyone will look very excited.
In typical MLS fashion, the terms of the deal were not disclosed. But according to reports, the salary is far less than the $1.2 million that was initially rumored. And the deal is actually a one-year loan from Stoke City (England) with an option to buy at the end. If you're not versed in soccer player movement, loans are actually very common worldwide. MLS has historically stayed away from acquiring players on loan, unless there is an option to buy at the end of the deal.
In this case, it's a perfect deal for the Union. They get a solid player to anchor the midfield, and presumably, will buy him permanently at year's end. But should the move fail miserably (unlikely), or should Edu play well enough that he dreams of a return to Europe at year's end, the Union aren't weighed down by a long contract.
Combine this move with the signing of Argentine midfielder Cristian Maidana, and what seems like a looming deal with French midfielder Vincent Nogeira, and the Union have drastically changed their midfield.
That's all great, but we know what you really want: To sound smart around your coworkers and friends when they ask "Did the Union just sign that Adu guy again? I thought he sucked?" So, a few things you should know about Maurice Edu:
- At 27, Edu is by no means washed up. There was a time when he was a regular call-up to the United States men's national team. He's well off the radar for this year's World Cup squad, but could find his way back with a strong season.
- Edu is pretty active on the Twitters (@MauriceEdu), and on Instagram, if you're into that sorta thing.
- Edu is (technically) still property of Stoke City in England, but he was most recently on loan to Bursaspor of Turkey. He played 13 games at Bursaspor after barely getting a sniff at Stoke. His European career started strongly with storied Scottish side Rangers.
- Edu has actually played at PPL Park before. He started and played one half for the U.S. in a completely forgettable 0-0 draw with Colombia in 2010 (I was there and am still waiting for a refund check).
- Edu is primarily a holding (or defensive) midfielder. He has even played fullback at times, but expect him to play in his natural position for the Union. What that means for captain and fellow defensive midfielder Brian Carroll is anyone's guess, although there are formations that would allow both of them to play together. Plus, talent-wise, there is no argument that Edu is more skilled than most MLS midfielders. So in theory, he could be asked to play a little higher on the field.
- Before all these signings, John Hackworth had expressed a desire to play more of a 4-3-3 formation this year (4 defenders, 3 midfielders, 3 forwards). With Maidana, Edu and Nogueira, I'm not sure how that happens, unless the three new players fill the midfield. And if that does happen, I'd have to think Carroll gets squeezed out, unless Maidana or Nogueira play as part of the three-man front line.
- All of this guessing is really pointless until later in preseason (much of which takes place in secret). Camp began Monday in Wayne, and moves to Florida for most of February.
- Edu not only had a solid playing career in Scotland, he also ended up on one of the United Kingdom's notorious front pages in a "WAG" (wives and girlfriends) scandal in 2012. (The things you find on Google at 1 a.m.)
- The highlight of his National Team career so far was a goal that wasn't really a goal in the 2010 World Cup.
- Edu was actually the MLS Rookie of the Year in 2007 with Toronto FC.
- There's no confirmation yet what uniform number Edu will wear. He has worn No. 10 (University of Maryland), No. 6 (Toronto FC), No. 2 (Rangers), No. 7 (Rangers and USMNT), and No. 13 (Stoke City). With the Union, 10 is available, 2 is not really available (Carlos Valdes) and 6, 7 and 13 are not available (Conor Casey, Brian Carroll and Michael Lahoud, respectively). Some Union fans are hoping he chooses No. 11, meaning a simple Letter "E" decal could fix all those Freddy Adu jerseys. (UPDATE: Union writer Kevin Kinkead with some news on that front Tuesday morning.)
Maurice Edu is gonna wear #21
— Kevin Kinkead (@PhilUnionKevinK) January 28, 2014
- Finally, a few highlights so you can tell your friends that you are a Maurice Edu expert:
[nbcsports_video src=//www.youtube.com/embed/OcCnzqZIljI width=620 height=349]