By RYAN TOLMICH
Maurice Edu has done this before. As a veteran of the 2010 U.S. Men’s National Team World Cup roster, Edu has experienced the rigors of earning his spot among his country’s best.
There are differences, of course, between this team and the team that took on South Africa four years ago. Despite a new coach at the helm and a slew of new faces, Edu insists that the team is as strong as ever.
“I think we have a good group again,” Edu said at Wednesday’s pre-World Cup camp. “I think last campaign, we had a good group in terms of how we came together on the pitch as well as off the pitch and I think its similar this time as well.”
That off-the-field bond is something Edu values, as the Philadelphia Union midfielder believes the team’s passion and love for one another will be a major factor when the team heads to Brazil
“Obviously, it’s important to be skillful, be talented, be tactically sound and all of those things,” Edu said. “At the end of the day, you can do all of that stuff, but how you perform on the pitch and whether you’re willing to do that extra running for the player next to you; those bonds and the relationships that have been built over the last four years are what’s going to help us along the way.
“Obviously it’s going to be physically demanding, mentally demanding, but that willingness to go the extra mile for your teammates, that’s going to be key for us.”
Despite the closeness of the 30 players currently in camp, only 23 will make the trip to Brazil. For Edu, this camp presents one final opportunity to earn what he has been working to achieve for the past four years.
“I think it’s important just to focus on doing what you’ve done to get you here,” Edu said. “Obviously, you’ve shown well for yourself and you have the ability and you have the skill to be at this level. But now, it’s about just continuing on that path and just making that final push. In doing that, not only are you going to show well for yourself, but you’re going to make this team a lot stronger as well.”