January 16, 2007 Edu living the soccer dream (from Toronto Star)

Edu living the soccer dream

Toronto FC: The story so far 
ROSTER SPOTS FILLED: 16
SPOTS REMAINING: 12
CANADIAN CONTENT: 
Greg Sutton, GK, Montreal
Adam Braz, D, St-Laurent, Que.
Chris Pozniak, D, Aurora
Marco Reda, D, Woodbridge
Jim Brennan, M, Newmarket
Rich Asante, M, North York
Jeff Gonsalves, F, Markham 

PRE-SEASON DATES: 
Feb. 1-9, Ontario Soccer Centre, Vaughan
Feb. 10-24, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Feb. 25-March 4, Toronto
March 5-17, Bradenton, Fla.
March 18-20, Toronto
March 21-April 1, pre-season tournament (vs. New York, Houston, Charleston USL) at Charleston, S.C.

SEASON OPENER: April 7
vs. Chivas USA, Carson, Cal.

HOME OPENER: April 28
vs. Kansas City, BMO Field

QUOTE: "I have 16 guys upstairs on a board. If I'd taken that 16 today and played any MLS team right now, we would fare fine." 
Toronto FC coach Mo Johnston

Season tickets going fast No. 1 draft pick of Toronto FC, California native says he always had eye on pro career

January 16, 2007
Matthew Chung
Sports Reporter

Growing up in Fontana, Calif., Maurice Edu tried his hand (and feet) at American-dominated sports like football and basketball, but his heart was owned by soccer.

"Soccer's what I've always wanted to do," said Edu, the defensive midfielder who joins Toronto FC as the first overall pick in the 2007 Major League Soccer draft. "I got into it at a very young age and just stuck with it."

So while his friends were working on their jump shot or running with the pigskin, Edu practised slide tackling.

He watched European soccer and dreamed of playing there one day.

"I used that to kind of motivate myself with the dream of maybe getting over there ... where soccer was a more recognized sport," he said at a news conference yesterday to introduce three of Toronto's four draft picks Edu, forward Jeff Gonsalves of Markham and midfielder Rich Assante of North York. New Zealand international defender Andrew Boyens, the 10th overall pick, wasn't there.

"But I do ... still have that belief and that hope that soccer will continue to grow in the U.S. and over here as well," Edu said.

Born to Nigerian immigrants "soccer's big with them," he said Edu was a first-team All-American at the University of Maryland. He helped guide the school to a national championship in 2005.

Edu is signed to a three-year contract with a two-year option with Generation Adidas, a youth development program of the MLS and Adidas for top young players. Generation Adidas players' contracts don't count against a team's salary cap.

They receive grants to further their education while playing professionally.

Toronto FC would not disclose the size of his contract, but last year's No. 1 pick, Marvell Wynne, earned $150,000 (all figures U.S.), according to the Washington Post.

Compare that to the NHL, where rookies could earn up to $850,000 in 2006. Toronto Raptors forward Andrea Bargnani, the No. 1 pick in last year's NBA draft, is making $3.75 million this year.

Asked what he'll bring to the team, Edu touted his "brilliant work ethic" and competitiveness, as well as a knack for delivering quality crosses.

"He's going to play defensive midfield and that's his best position," said Johnston.

"I've watched him for more than two years. ... He's very athletic, good at running with the ball, communicates well and he's a very hard tackler," Johnston added.

Along with Edu, Boyens will be expected to step in right away.

At 6-foot-4, the University of New Mexico athlete "is one of the best defenders in that draft," said Johnston.

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