BRIAN SCIARETTA - Monday, October 10, 2011
As the US national team cruised to a 1-0 win over Honduras on Saturday night, midfielder Maurice Edu is upbeat heading into Tuesday night's friendly against Ecuador.
Edu, 25, is back with the team for the second time under new US national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. After starting in both of team's two losses in September, Edu feels like the team has made progress during the current October international window.
"It's been good," Edu told YA. "I've enjoyed it, the team has enjoyed it. I feel like we've made progress and we're ready for the game."
Entering into the Honduras friendly the US team was mired in an offensive slump. The team had only scored once during the three games since Klinsmann was hired. The team suffered consecutive 1-0 losses in their two September games against Costa Rica and Belgium.
Edu has noticed that since he arrived in camp with the US team national last week there has been a renewed focus on offense and creativity. Against Honduras that was apparent as the team created numerous opportunities via combination play on the wings.
Even though the team only scored once, Edu is optimistic that more goals will come in the future.
"We just worked on different combination plays, giving ourselves a few more options, and variations on different plays," Edu discussed. "We've been exploring our horizons a little more and creating different ways we can play. At the end of the day when you're on the field you have to be creative and do things yourself. But [Jurgen has] given us different ways to break down teams to create chances."
Edu got the start for the US against Honduras and joining him in the midfield was Hoffeneheim's Danny Williams who joined the team for the first team. Like a growing number of US players, Williams was born in Germany and was very unfamiliar with the team or even the country before he arrived.
Edu insists that when players of this background join the team, the veterans go out of their way to make the player feel at home and fully integrated into the player pool.
"It could be difficult," Edu explained. "Obviously there could be some barriers and some difficult circumstances but we try to make everyone feel comfortable and make them feel like they've been a part of the team for awhile. I'm sure he can attest to that. Timmy [Chandler] is no different -the same with Jermaine Jones and Fabian Johnson."
"We try to make them feel as comfortable as possible," he added. "Because when you're more comfortable, you're able to express yourself, play to your full potential, and not worry about things. We've seen that with him. Danny is a character. He's come in, trained well, and he's enjoying himself off the field with the rest of the guys."
On the club front, Edu it has been a difficult couple of months. While Rangers currently sit in first place in the Scottish Premier League and are nine points ahead of second place Motherwell, the three time defending champions were knocked out of the Champions League and the Europa League in August.
Edu was not happy with Rangers having no more European opportunities but he said the team is determined to win the league again and get back to Europe next year.
"It makes it easier to focus because there's less things to focus on," Edu said on Rangers being out of Europe. "But I'm definitely disappointed to not be involved in Europe. You always want to be involved in the Champions League or the Europa League. It was disappointing to be out of that when it happened but now our focus is on winning the league and the cup."
As for now, Edu is focused on helping the US national team for their upcoming game against Ecuador. After two losses in September, Edu does not feel that there is any added pressure to win these two games in November.
"Every game there is pressure to win," Edu concluded. "If you're an athlete you always want to win. You don't go out there to have a kick-around. We're going to approach all our games this way. At the end of the day these are friendlies and if we're going to make mistakes, we'd rather make them here than in qualifying games when the results matter more."
Edu and the US national team will square off against Ecuador Tuesday night in New Jersey for the team's first game at Red Bull Arena.