CHESTER, Pa. – The good news for the Philadelphia Union is that Maurice Edu is returning earlier than expected from US national team camp and will be available for Sunday’s game against the LA Galaxy at the StubHub Center (8 pm ET; Univision Deportes).
The bad news is that so is Landon Donovan.
Donovan and Edu were among the seven players cut from US national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s World Cup squad on Thursday – and could now square off against each other this weekend.
“The first thought when I saw it was that I couldn’t believe [Donovan] didn’t make the World Cup team,” Union manager John Hackworth said before the team boarded a flight to Los Angeles on Friday. “And the second thought was that I can’t believe we have to play him this weekend.”
Because the US national team’s roster wasn’t expected to be trimmed down from 30 to 23 until later in the month, Hackworth set up a gameplan that didn’t involve tying to stop Donovan and also didn’t involve using Edu.
Even now, the Union manager is unsure if Edu will start or even get on the field after he meets up with the team in Southern California.
“We’ll evaluate it to see how Maurice is doing both physically and mentally,” Hackworth said. “And then we’ll make a decision on how to proceed for Sunday.”
Considering Cristian Maidana is suspended and Brian Carroll is coming off a groin injury, the Union could certainly use Edu during their two-game road trip in California, which concludes with a match against Chivas USA next Saturday.
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But Hackworth tried to toe the line between excitement for the club and disappointment for Edu, who missed out on the chance to play in his second World Cup.
“We’re glad he is going to be with us in Los Angeles,” the Union manager said. “It’s unfortunate for him that he didn’t make the 23 – we thought he deserved that opportunity. But we welcome him back because we’re a better team with him.”
The Galaxy, of course, are a better team with Donovan, too. And his possible inclusion in the LA lineup immediately after a shocking snub is something that has Hackworth very wary.
“Landon is one of the best players this country has ever known,” the Union manager said. “Obviously, we’ve been preparing to play LA with him not being a part of the team and we have to change gears in a dramatic way to deal with Landon on Sunday.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at email@example.com.