January 12, 2007 Toronto FC at SuperDraft (from Globe and Mail)

Posted AT 9:46 PM EST ON 12/01/07

Toronto FC snaps up first building block

Globe and Mail Update

Toronto FC selected one of U.S. college soccer's top stars, Maryland Terrapins midfielder Maurice Edu, as the first-overall pick in Major League Soccer's SuperDraft in Indianapolis, Ind., on Friday.

"He's a very, very good young player," Toronto FC coach Mo Johnston said. "It's a great day for our team, and we're looking forward to seeing him in training camp."

Toronto's No. 1 selection surprised few, as the six-foot, 170-pound Edu had emerged as the National Collegiate Athletic Association's top defensive midfielder over the past few seasons.

"I'm just looking forward to getting out and playing and proving that Toronto did a good job in selecting me," Edu said. "The biggest challenge will be to adjust to the speed of play [in the MLS] and get comfortable with my new teammates in Toronto. Once I do this, my attributes as a player will show."

Leading Maryland to a 2005 national championship, Edu and his Terps were eliminated in the Sweet 16 this past season, but the native of Fontana, Calif., still became an NCAA first team all-star selection and a semi-finalist for college soccer's most valuable player award, the Hermann Trophy.

He is described by observers as a complete two-way player: gifted on the attack with brilliant ball-handling skills as well as being a capable and rugged defender.

Edu surprised many of his Maryland teammates in mid-December by announcing he would forgo his senior season and enter the draft.

"It was the hardest decision of my life," Edu said. "I love everything about the Maryland soccer program. I made friends for life here, and though it was a painful decision, I know that I am ready to accept the challenge of the professional soccer world."

While Toronto FC officials wouldn't speculate on Edu's future salary, one soccer insider said most first-round picks could expect to make between $30,000 (all figures U.S.) and $40,000 a season.

Edu's parents, Molly and Maurice Edu Sr., were in attendance at the Indianapolis Convention Center and embraced their son when league commissioner Don Garber announced Toronto's selection to a national television audience.

The 20-year-old is also a gifted student and promised his parents he will finish his business degree and continue his studies in the off-season.

Maryland head coach Sasho Cirovski, who played and coached in Southern Ontario's semi-professional Canadian Soccer League in the 1980s, spoke glowingly of Edu.

"He is an extremely special young man," Cirovski said. "He has both the physical and mental capabilities to not only become a great professional, but a full member of the U.S. national team in the future."

Toronto FC also made a surprise SuperDraft trade yesterday.

The Los Angeles Galaxy, who the day before had announced the blockbuster $250-million signing of Real Madrid midfielder David Beckham, exchanged their first-round pick with Toronto for player-allocation money.

Toronto then moved to select 6-foot-4, 170-pound New Mexico defender Andrew Boyens, a native of Dunedin, New Zealand, 10th overall.

The club's second first-round selection meant Toronto would forgo a second-round pick.

In the third round, Toronto selected another early draft entry, hometown defensive midfielder Richard Asante, a junior from the University of Syracuse, 27th overall.

Born in Ghana but raised in Toronto, the 5-foot-5 Asante graduated from Westview Centennial High School and is a past member of Canada's under-18 and under-20 national teams.

In the fourth and final round, Toronto selected six-foot, 160-pound Newmarket, Ont., forward Jeff Gonsalves of Rhode Island with the 40th overall pick.

Toronto will open its training camp on Feb. 1 at the Ontario Soccer Centre in Vaughan, Ont., before moving to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Feb. 10.

Club officials say they plan to introduce Edu to the Toronto media at a news conference early next week.

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