Philadelphia Union ink USMNT's Maurice Edu as Designated Player on one-year loan from Stoke City

The Philadelphia Union finally have their man – at least for one year, and possibly more.

After weeks of reportsacknowledged interest from the MLS side and continued public flirtation, the Union announced on Monday that they have acquired midfielder Maurice Edu on a one-year loan from Stoke City of the English Premier League. The deal includes an option to buy for the Union. 

The US national teamer returns to MLS via the allocation order – Philadelphia traded up to the top spot in a deal with D.C. United shortly before the 2014 MLS SuperDraft. Edu joins the Union as a Designated Player.

“As a US International with experience playing against some of the best competition in the world, Maurice adds a wealth of knowledge, skill and leadership to our club while still being in his prime,” Union manager John Hackworth said in a statement. “We think he will be an excellent addition to our squad and we are very excited to have him return to MLS and represent the Philadelphia Union.”

The 27-year-old midfielder returns to MLS after an up-and-down five-and-a-half years in Europe, where he spent time in Scotland, England and Turkey. He originally transferred to Rangers FC in August of 2008 after a standout start to his MLS career with Toronto FC, where he won the 2007 MLS Rookie of the Year award on the back of being the No. 1 pick at that year's SuperDraft.

Reports of Philadelphia's flirtation with the Fontana, Calif., native surfaced earlier this month. Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz first publicly acknowledged the club's interest at the SuperDraft on Jan. 17 in Philadelphia. On Friday, reported the deal had been consummated hours after Hackworth told reporters that he hoped to have an agreement finalized. 

A veteran of the 2010 World Cup, Edu has earned 45 caps for the US national team and was once a lock to go to Brazil this summer, but has found playing time hard to come by since leaving Rangers in 2012. He had yet to make an appearance for Stoke this season.

Edu becomes the latest in a line of US national teamers playing abroad to return to MLS – Michael Bradley and Michael Parkhurst signed for Toronto and Columbus, respectively, earlier this month, while Clint Dempsey, Clarence Goodson and Carlos Bocanegra also signed for MLS teams last year.

MLS previously stated that Designated Players are exempt from the allocation process; however, a league spokesperson provided the following statement, when contacted by 

“As with most aspects of the business, the league, in consultation with the clubs, reviews the roster rules on an annual basis and reserves the right to modify them prior to each season. The amendment to the assignment mechanism for Designated Players will be reflected in the 2014 roster rules that will be released prior to the start of the season.”