Maurice Edu: The Other Midfielder

June 23, 2010 - Tshwane/Pretoria, Guateng, South Africa - 23 JUN 2010: Maurice Edu (USA). The United States National Team defeated the Algeria National Team 1-0 at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Tshwane/Pretoria, South Africa in a 2010 FIFA World Cup Group C match.

Given the attention lavished on gringo center midfielders suiting up in the English Premier League, American fans might need a refresher on the other center mid who plays for a top club – Maurice Edu. The Rangers man hasn’t made a change to a new team – ie Jermaine Jones and Michael Bradley – nor has he made a position change like Jonathan Spector. Edu, however, has been just as important to his team’s success as any of the aforementioned gringos. And from a tactical standpoint, Edu produced some interesting statistics earlier in the campaign.

Traditional midfielder?

In the Champions League, Rangers used a 3-6-1/5-4-1 and Edu lined up as one of two central midfielders, though he had slightly different roles from match to match. To begin with, when Rangers was favored Edu operated as a box-to-box midfielder.

The Scottish club, however, was only favored against one of the other teams in its group, Turkish side Bursaspor. When facing Valencia and Manchester United, Rangers was more circumspect moving forward. They either forced a long pass to their lone striker or countered down the wings. As a result, Edu seemed to play passes deep in his half, along the wing, or near the opponent’s penalty area. He rarely had possession in the attacking middle.

A midfield contemporary

During the World Cup, Germany’s Sami Khedira occasionally performed a similar role. Like Edu, Khedira was one of two holding midfielders, though in a 4-2-3-1 instead of a 3-6-1. Despite the formation differences, against England Khedira produced a passing chalkboard relatively similar to the one Edu manufactured against Manchester United.

Of course, due to the 4-1 victory, Khedira didn’t play as many deep passes as Edu. But in attack both seemed to ignore the middle of the pitch, preferring to link with wingers or charge to the edge of the box. Khedira didn’t always make such sparse contributions in the middle (he was particularly active in that area against Australia), but it’s intriguing to see two players in two different systems producing similar statistics.

Given that Khedira earned positive reviews for his performances in South Africa, a few more similar chalkboards from Edu could cause Americans to remember there’s life outside the EPL.

2 Comments Post a Comment
  1. bensten says:

    I like Edu a lot and wish we could see more of him on a regular basis. I think he’d get a lot more deserved attention if we got some Scottish Premier League coverage on TV over here.

    Next time Bradley plays his “A Team,” I’d really like to see Edu and Jones playing as side-by-side holders in some kind of 4-2-x-x formation.

    • Blake Owen says:

      I’m just as guilty of EPL-bias as anyone. It’s a great league, it’s always on TV, and the broadcasts are in English. I’d love to see more Edu and Benny Feilhaber, but unfortunately it’s just not possible.

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