After lost 2016, Union captain Maurice Edu eager to get back on field

After lost 2016, Union captain Maurice Edu eager to get back on field

CHESTER, Pa. — Maurice Edu still can't believe the brutal timing of it all.

After waiting patiently the entire year to return from a stress fracture, the Philadelphia Union captain was set to make his 2016 season debut in late October vs. the New York Red Bulls, just before the club's first playoff appearance in five years.

But then he suffered what he called "a freak accident" in practice, snapping his left fibula and damaging his ankle while planting his foot, which officially ended his season without any appearances.

So after an entirely lost 2016, it was only natural that the midfielder was immediately asked how he's feeling heading into the 2017 campaign.

"I knew that was coming, right?" Edu said Tuesday, following the team's first practice of the preseason. "You guys are probably tired of hearing the same answer and the same story. I'm just taking it day by day, recovering. ... It's just a gradual progression with the obvious mindset of getting on the field as fast as possible."

Edu said he had surgery in early November and was on crutches and in a walking boot for about the next six weeks. But he's felt better since then, and Union head coach Jim Curtin hopes the veteran midfielder is cleared to run by early February while the team is in Florida for preseason camp.

At the same time, Curtin admitted he was wary of putting a timetable on it after last year's saga when Edu was initially expected to return early in the season before being diagnosed with a stress fracture that was supposed to keep him out for an estimated 3 to 4 months. Then, even after returning to practice in July and making several rehab appearances with affiliate Bethlehem Steel FC, Edu was kept out of the lineup for a couple more months before suffering his second major injury.

"I hate putting timelines on it but ... it's not too far off," Curtin said. "He's been progressing well. All things are positive but, at the same time, we have to be smart how we manage it. It's a completely separate fracture from the previous one."

While injured last year, Edu took on a different role, trying to still be the leader of the locker room and encourage other players. But having been sidelined since the 2015 U.S. Open Cup final, he's eager to get back on the field with those teammates and play alongside Alejandro Bedoya, Philly's prized pickup last summer, for the first time in what could potentially be a dynamic midfield.

But Edu also doesn't want to be "too eager," as he says he was at times during his recovery last year — a lesson he'll take with him into the 2017 season.

"For whatever reason, it just wasn't meant to be [last year]," Edu said. "So I'm just trying to come in here with a clean mindset and not dwell on what happened last season, not let that impact me now in terms of how I'm going about my rehab and the things I'm doing.

"I can't dwell on it, can't feel sorry for myself. I've just gotta put my head down and get to work again."

Union trade Keegan Rosenberry to Colorado Rapids

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Union trade Keegan Rosenberry to Colorado Rapids

The Union announced Wednesday that they have traded defender and Harrisburg, PA, native Keegan Rosenberry to the Colorado Rapids.

According to a press release from the team, the Union will receive up to $400,000 in Allocation Money from the Rapids in exchange for the 25-year-old Rosenberry. The team in 2019 will receive $150,000 in General Allocation Money and $50,000 in Targeted Allocation Money, along with $100,000 in General Allocation Money in 2020. If Rosenberry meets certain performance metrics next season, the team will receive an additional $100,000 in General Allocation Money in 2020.

Rosenberry, the No. 3 selection in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft, played three seasons for the Union. He was voted into the MLS All-Star Game in 2016 and finished second for Rookie of the Year that season.

Sporting director Ernst Tanner told reporters that he feels the right back position is covered with the 21-year-old Olivier Mbaizo and the 28-year-old Ray Gaddis.

Rosenberry thanked the organization and its fans for their support.

Ryan Bright contributed to this story.

Union add attack power in Brazilian forward Sergio Santos

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Union add attack power in Brazilian forward Sergio Santos

Sporting director Ernst Tanner and the Union made their first big splash of the offseason on Friday by signing 24-year-old Brazilian forward Sergio Santos. 

Santos was acquired for a $500,000 transfer fee from Chilean Primera Division club Audax Italiano and was signed using Targeted Allocation Money. The length of the deal was not disclosed. 

“Sergio is a young forward with potential and we are pleased to complete his signing,” Tanner said in the team’s official release. “When we met with him in Chile, it became apparent that he is a good fit for our club both as a player and as a person.”

The move is intriguing for multiple reasons. The 6-foot center forward is the first impact addition from new sporting director Ernst Tanner, whose goal for the offseason was to make the Union a more offensive-oriented team with a potential two-forward setup. 

Secondly, Santos, who had nine goals in 16 matches for Audex last season, joins a busy Union attack corps that features Cory Burke, C.J. Sapong, David Accam and Fafa Picault. If only two of those five can play at any given time in Tanner’s formation, the team could look to ship someone out. 

Attacking pieces Jay Simpson, Fabian Herber and Marcus Epps were not retained for the 2019 season.

“We have observed rapid improvement and development at Audax,” Tanner said, “and believe he is ready for this next step. We next look forward to integrating him as quickly as possible with the team at the start of preseason.”