by FRANCO PANIZO
When Maurice Edu was in the midst of recovering from his lengthy knee injury, he targeted to return in Rangers' first match of the new year, the Old Firm showdown. Edu made his season debut earlier than expected, playing briefly last week, but he saw his most significant playing time since last season vs. Celtic, clocking 77 minutes in Rangers' 1-1 draw.
Edu entered the Old Firm derby early in the first half after Nacho Novo went down with an injury. The U.S. national team midfielder's appearance was his longest since May 2009, and helped keep Rangers seven points clear of Celtic in the Scottish Premier League.
Edu's performance came on a weekend where the FA Cup grabbed most of the headlines. A plethora of Americans played in the third round of the tournament, including Brad Guzan, who helped Aston Villa to a 3-1 win over Blackburn. Mike Grella did not see the field, but Leeds United also won its match this weekend, shocking Manchester United, 1-0.
Here is how the Americans Abroad fared this weekend:
- Tim Howard started, played 90 minutes and made five saves in Everton's 3-1 win vs. Carlisle United on Saturday.
- Jozy Altidore came off the bench and played 11 minutes in Hull City's 4-1 loss vs. Wigan Athletic on Saturday.
- Clint Dempsey started and played 90 minutes in Fulham's 1-0 win vs. Swindon Town on Saturday.
- Jonathan Spector did not dress in West Ham's 2-1 loss vs. Arsenal on Sunday.
- Brad Friedel dressed but did not play in Aston Villa's 3-1 win vs. Blackburn Rovers on Saturday.
Brad Guzan started, played 90 minutes and made three saves in Aston Villa's 3-1 win vs. Blackburn Rovers on Saturday.
Marcus Hahnemann dressed but did not play in Wolverhampton Wanderers' 1-0 win vs. Tranmere Rovers on Sunday.
- Jay DeMerit started and played 90 minutes in Watford's 5-0 loss vs. Chelsea on Sunday.
- Frank Simek started and played 90 minutes in Sheffield Wednesday's 2-1 loss vs. Crystal Palace on Saturday.
- Mike Grella dressed but did not play in Leeds United's 1-0 win vs. Manchester United on Sunday.
- Jemal Johnson dressed but did not play in Milton Keynes Dons' 2-1 loss vs. Burnley on Saturday.
- Zak Whitbread did not dress in Millwall's 1-1 draw vs. Derby County on Saturday.
- Jon-Paul Pittman started and played 90 minutes in Wycombe Wanderers' 1-0 loss vs. Norwich City on Saturday.
- Maurice Edu came off the bench and played 77 minutes in Rangers' 1-1 draw vs. Celtic on Sunday.
- DaMarcus Beasley did not dress in Rangers' 1-1 draw vs. Celtic on Sunday. He is recovering from a thigh injury.
- Dominic Cervi did not dress in Celtic's 1-1 draw vs. Rangers on Sunday.
What do you think of these performances? Think Edu is ready to reclaim his starting role in Rangers' midfield? Do you see Guzan displacing Friedel by the end of 2010? Upset that Grella did not play in Leeds' shocking win over Man. United, or are you happy enough with the result?