WAYNE, Pa. – After midfielder Maurice Edu was acquired by the Philadelphia Union earlier this week, one of the natural questions was where that left Brian Carroll, who plays a similar position as Edu and, at 32, could be nearing the end of his career.
But Carroll, the Union’s captain, isn’t going anywhere.
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In fact, the Union’s current plan maintains Carroll as the team’s starting holding midfielder and spots him behind Edu and Frenchman Vincent Nogueira – who manager John Hackworth said is close to being signed, confirming reports from both France Football and Nogueira's club, Sochaux – in a three-man midfield. In that scenario, new Designated Player Cristian Maidana would start on the left wing, with perhaps Sebastien Le Toux playing on the right wing and either Conor Casey or Jack McInerney likely slotting in as a lone forward.
“We’re looking at it as a three-man midfield,” Hackworth told MLSsoccer.com. “Maidana was playing as a No. 10 in Argentina, but he can also play as a left winger. [Edu] and Nogueira are both traditional No. 8s – box-to-box guys. Nogueira is very much a possession-oriented guy who does a tremendous amount of work. And then you've got Brian Carroll, who in theory should be doing the work behind those guys, holding down the fort and providing the service into those two.”
Edu has done much of his best work as a defensive midfielder, and there is sentiment among some Philadelphia fans and media that Carroll’s production has slipped of late, with Philly’s midfield struggling and the Union missing the playoffs in each of the last two seasons. But like many of his soccer peers, Edu expressed admiration for Carroll and hopes to start alongside him in 2014.
“Brian Carroll is the captain and one of the most professional guys I know,” Edu said. “He’s a well-respected guy, a great leader and works his socks off every game. It would be nice if I started next to him in the midfield and the two of us can help dictate play a little bit.”
When asked if he expects to start alongside Edu, Carroll said, “It seems that way,” and said he is similarly excited at the prospect, having played against him in MLS and with him in US national team camps.
“His talents are excellent,” Carroll said. “Hopefully he’s able to raise the level of our team. And I’ll be around him and supporting him and helping our team do better this year.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.