January 12, 2007 Toronto FC Superdraft choices (from MLSnet.com staff)

01/12/2007 5:20PM
Dream fulfilled for top pick Edu
By Andrew Hush / MLSnet.com Staff

INDIANAPOLIS -- When his was the first name called in the 2007 MLS SuperDraft today, a lifelong dream came true for Maurice Edu. The 20-year-old midfielder had been projected as the likely first overall pick for some time, but Edu admitted that when he finally heard the official confirmation that he is headed to play for Toronto FC, it was an amazing feeling.

"I was so excited," said Edu. "I knew that Toronto was very interested in taking me number one but when you hear your name called, even though you might expect it, it's unreal. I am full of excitement and very thankful to Toronto for giving me this opportunity.

"It has been a lifelong goal, a dream. Since I started playing soccer as a kid I knew that was what I wanted to do. Growing up, everyone would ask me what I want to do and I always said soccer."

Edu opted not to return to the University of Maryland for his senior year, bringing to a close an outstanding collegiate career. It was a difficult decision, the Fontana, Calif., native admitted. He was a first-team all-American and Hermann Trophy semifinalist in 2006, one year after he played a major role in helping the Terps win the national championship. Maryland was an impressive 52-15-5 during his three seasons in a Terrapin uniform.

As he looked forward to a professional career, Edu could not help looking back to his time with the ACC powerhouse and was quick to pay tribute to his former coach, Sasho Cirovski.

"I think that Sasho is very passionate about soccer and that is why Maryland is the best program in the country," Edu said. "He is very demanding of his players and I know the players appreciate that. I know I do and it has helped me develop over the past three years. If I had a bad day at training he would tell me. He and his coaches pushed me day in and day out."

The work is set to get even harder for Edu, who is expected to challenge hard for a starting spot on the newest club in the league. He is ready for the challenge and admitted that he had been put further at ease by his new coach, just moments after his selection.

"After I got off the stage, I had a chat with Mo (Johnston) and the first thing he said was, 'We're going to take care of you'. Those were real comforting and reassuring words," Edu said.

For his part, Johnston was equally thrilled with his pick, who he had already given a familiar nickname by the time he came to discuss Edu later.

"Mo Edu is a quality, quality player," the TFC boss said. "He is a tremendous athlete, a very good passer of the ball and he has got a smart brain."

At 6 feet, 170 pounds, Edu, who listed his heroes as Claude Makelele and Michael Essien, is set to provide an imposing presence in the Toronto midfield -- which is beginning to look formidable when the talents of Ronnie O'Brien and Jose Cancela are added to the equation. The expectations surrounding him are high, but Edu is confident he can rise to the challenge.

"I am just excited. I feel like it doesn't matter what pick you get," he said. Obviously the No. 1 might have more weight on it but I just want to get out there and play."

A broad smile came across Edu's face when he was asked of his impressions of beginning his professional career in the league's newest city. Toronto is a city he has never been to but one in which he is certain he is going to enjoy living and playing.

"The tickets have been going like crazy and I also saw the stadium already," he said. "I know that Toronto is passionate about soccer and I am excited about getting into the stadium, seeing the fans and playing."

Andrew Hush is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.

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