The wave of U.S. National Team players returning to the states to play in MLS grew by another member on Monday when the Philadelphia Union acquired midfielder Maurice Edu on a one-year loan from Stoke City.
The 27-year-old started his professional career with Toronto FC after being selected first overall in the 2007 MLS SuperDraft. He played just a season and a half before interest from overseas wooed the University of Maryland product and in 2008, he transferred to Rangers in the Scottish Premier League. There, he played until 2012, scoring nine goals in 96 matches for the legendary Glasgow club.
He is now one of three Americans out on loan from Stoke City, joining Brek Shea with Barnsley in the English Championship and Juan Agudelo with FC Utrecht in Holland.
Edu joined the Union through the allocation ranking and will be a Designated Player for Philadelphia. In 38 matches with Toronto FC, he had five goals and two assists, winning MLS Rookie of the Year honors in 2007. He has 45 caps with the U.S. National Team and was a member of the 2010 FIFA World Cup squad, starting in the 1-0 victory over Algeria that pushed the U.S. through to the Round of 16.
Sounders FC now holds the top spot in the allocation ranking.
GSPURNING RETURNS TO GREECE
After two seasons with Sounders FC, goalkeeper Michael Gspurning signed on Monday with PAOK in Greece, returning to the country where he played for five seasons with Skoda Xanthi before signing with Seattle in 2012.
In 49 MLS appearances, he posted the second-best goals against average in league history at 1.04, registering 18 shutouts and a 24-13-11 record.
PAOK is currently second in the Greek Super League at 15-3-3, behind only 19-0-2 Olympiakos. The 34-game Greek regular season runs through April 14 and PAOK will play a second round Europa League series with Benfica of Portugal in February.
WHITECAPS FIND LEE’S REPLACEMENT
Vancouver Whitecaps FC had a steady presence at right back over the last two years in veteran YP Lee. The South Korean star had 10 assists in 65 matches during the 2012 and 2013 seasons, but Vancouver was in need of a replacement when he retired and the Whitecaps found their man in San Jose Earthquakes defender Steven Beitashour, sending allocation money to the Quakes in the trade.
The 26-year-old defender earned the starting role for San Jose in 2011 and didn’t relinquish it the rest of his time there. In 2012, he was named to the MLS All-Star team and was one of just three players to play 90 minutes in a 3-2 win over Chelsea in that match. In 87 matches over four seasons, he has two goals and 16 assists.
The move continues San Jose’s defensive shakeup after the Quakes already traded fellow 2012 All-Star Justin Morrow to the Montreal Impact.
Vancouver also announced on Monday that it signed veteran midfielder Mehdi Ballouchy.
NEW YORK ADDS RIGHT BACK, TOO
The New York Red Bulls also sought right back help this offseason and fit the bill by sending a fourth round pick in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft to Toronto FC for 24-year-old Englishman Richard Eckersley.
Eckersley played 72 matches over three seasons with Toronto FC and joins a New York backline that is being retooled after the departures of Heath Pearce, Markus Holgersson, Brandon Barklage and David Carney.
LEVESQUE TO TAKE THE PLUNGE
Longtime former Sounder Roger Levesque has always been active in the community and that hasn’t changed since he retired during the 2012 season to pursue his Masters degree at the University of Washington. At the moment, he is raising funds for Special Olympics Washington through the Polar Plunge. Read more about it and donate here.