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Where new Philadelphia man Maurice Edu ranks among MLS defensive midfielders

Portrait of US player Maurice Edu taken

Portrait of US player Maurice Edu taken before the friendly football match France v. USA on November 11, 2011 at Stade de France in Saint-Denis, northern Paris. AFP PHOTO JACQUES DEMARTHON (Photo credit should read JACQUES DEMARTHON/AFP/Getty Images)

AFP/Getty Images

Now that U.S. international Maurice Edu is in place at Philadelphia’s PPL Park, let’s find his place among MLS defensive midfielders.

He’s got to be top five, at very least, right? Even if you don’t think the once-and-again MLS man is quite there, I would wager that he will be top two or three in the league in most minds by the end of the year, assuming he can shake some of the Stoke City rust. (Edu played once over the last 18 or so months for Stoke, although he did get few good games while on loan in Turkey last year.)

A couple of things to note here:

First, Michael Bradley will not appear on this list. He’s not a defensive midfielder, not strictly speaking, anyway. He may line up as one at BMO Field out of organizational necessity, but Toronto FC manager Ryan Nelsen is no dummy. He knows that Bradley’s top utility comes as a linking man, a two-way presence who knows just when to insert himself into the opposition penalty area.

Similarly, Edu may not be a holding midfielder at PPL Park, where Brian Carroll has owned the spot. It’s possible that Edu plays slightly ahead of Carroll in a more advanced central role.

All that said, here is where I’d put Edu in the ranking of MLS holding midfielders going into the 2014 preseason.

1. Kyle Beckerman, Real Salt Lake

2. Osvaldo Alonso, Seattle Sounders

3. Maurice Edu, Philadelphia Union

4. Dax McCarty, New York Red Bulls

5. Patrice Bernier, Montreal Impact