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Maurice Edu itching to return, but Union's success makes the wait bearable

CHESTER, Pa. – Sometimes, when Maurice Edu is home watching a game, he’ll involuntary kick his leg out to react to a play.

Old habits are hard to break for the Philadelphia Union captain, who’s been out since the start of the 2016 season with a stress fracture in his left leg.

But while admitting he doesn’t particularly enjoy watching his team on TV, he did say that Philly’s early-season success has made his frustrations a little more bearable.

“It’s a weird feeling,” Edu told MLSsoccer.com. “I think any player that’s been injured will attest to that. The good thing is the team is doing well. I think if the team’s not doing well, you feel pressure to help the team.

“It’s a weird balance still feeling like you want to be out there as soon as possible. But with the team doing well it gives me that kind of reassurance that when I do come back from injury, I don’t have to try to play through pain or be a superhero and do stupid stuff. It’s more I come back because it’s the right time and my body is completely healed.”

As to when he is healed, well, that remains up in the air.

In early March, when the extent of his injury was first revealed, head coach Jim Curtin said that Edu would miss at least three months, meaning a return in mid-June after the Copa América break might be possible. But Curtin and Edu haven’t offered any timetables since and Edu admitted this week that, while he’s “made some pretty good progress,” it’s been a “slow healing process.’

Still, the Union captain has remained an important member of the team from the sideline, coaching up his teammates and offering advice in training and in the film room. And he’s liked what he’s seen out of the group, pointing to the team’s improved depth, camaraderie and general aura as some of the reasons why they’re unbeaten in six heading into Saturday’s showdown with the Colorado Rapids (9 pm ET, MLS LIVE) in a matchup of first-place teams.

And, he believes, it all began in the preseason.

“As much as there was unpredictability, there was a lot of promise and a lot of potential,” he said. “And now you’re seeing that potential come together.”

Edu also believes the US national team has the potential to make some noise at Copa América Centenario starting next week, and is excited to go to the games in Philly, including the United States-Paraguay contest on June 11.

“It’s a good opportunity to show the progress our country is made in this game over the past 10, 12 years,” Edu said, “and show we can compete consistently against the best teams in the world.”

Edu, who’s earned 46 caps with the US national team, is naturally upset that his injury didn’t give him a chance to make the Copa roster – as it did for a winter camp he otherwise would have been included in.

But he knows there’s not much he can do except watch his club and country on TV or from the stadium – while working to get better so he can play for both again soon.

“It’s one of those situations where you can’t feel bad for yourself,” Edu said. “It sucks but these things happen. The most important thing for me now is to get myself fit and playing well and just have the confidence to believe those things will work themselves out.”

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