Philadelphia's Maurice Edu makes 2016 debut in Sunday USL rehab assignment

The Philadelphia Union remain firmly in the playoff hunt despite Saturday night's loss to the Chicago Fire, and they're about to receive a big boost for the run-in.

The team announced Saturday that midfielder Maurice Edu would see his first competitive action of 2016 in a rehab appearance with USL affiliate Bethlehem Steel in a home game vs. New York Red Bulls II on Sunday. Edu's return to action was streamed live on USLsoccer.com and in the video player above.

Edu, 30, has missed the entire 2016 season with a stress fracture in his left leg. The loss has deprived the Union of an experienced US international and one of their key defensive pieces from the 2014 and 2015 seasons.

Edu logged 33 minutes before making way for Steel FC youngster Anthony Fontana in what appeared to be a pre-scheduled sub. Firsthand reports suggested that he was active and physical, showing no fear of contact or involvement. Red Bulls II would go on to defeat Bethlehem 2-0. 

"Mo is obviously an important part of our team and this is another good step in his progression," said Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin in a statement provided by the team.

Since joining the Union ahead of the 2014 campaign from English Premier League outfit Stoke City, Edu has made 53 appearances for the club and scored four goals to go with three assists.

Edu, the 2007 MLS Rookie of the Year, was also the first overall pick in that year's MLS SuperDraft by Toronto FC. He played one-and-a-half seasons with the Reds before moving abroad for a successful four-year stint with Scottish outfit Rangers. After winning three league titles in Scotland, Edu found less joy in his move to Stoke, where he made only one appearance in the Premier League and spent time on loan with Turkey's Bursaspor.

On the international level, Edu – a 2010 World Cup veteran – has appeared 46 times for the United States, though his last cap came in April 2014.

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