PORTLAND, Ore. - Maurice Edu didn't get to go to this year's World Cup, but the Major League Soccer All-Star game gave the Union's star midfielder a taste of what his U.S. national team friends experienced.
Edu played the second half in the All-Stars' 2-1 win over German powerhouse Bayern Munich. He was tasked with locking down the result after Bradley Wright-Phillips and Landon Donovan helped the All-Stars overturn a 1-0 halftime deficit.
That would have been a difficult task no matter who was on the field for Bayern, the reigning Bundesliga and 2013 UEFA Champions League winners. It became even harder in the last 10 minutes of the game.
Coach Pep Guardiola made a hockey-style substitution in the 80th minute to bring in his four German World Cup winners all at once: Mario Götze, Thomas Müller, Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger.
Six minutes later, Guardiola upped the ante again by sending on Dutch wing wizard Arjen Robben. That got a rise out of the 21,733 fans who packed Providence Park, given Robben's history of diving to win game-deciding penalty kicks.
But with Edu leading the way, the All-Stars' back line held firm to close out the victory. It was the All-Stars' first win over a visiting opponent since they beat Chelsea at PPL Park in 2012.
"Any time you get a chance to play against the best players in the world, you're excited for it," Edu said amid postgame celebrations in the All-Stars' locker room. "So when those guys came on, it was just more excitement. We knew it was going to be difficult - they're quality players and it's a quality team - but at the end of the day you want to play against the best to see how you compare."
Edu lined up at centerback for the All-Stars, next to D.C. United's Bobby Boswell. Although Edu is more naturally a defensive midfielder, Jim Curtin moved him to the back line after becoming the Union's interim manager, and Edu has excelled there in recent weeks.
So it was no surprise that All-Stars coach Caleb Porter, of the hometown Portland Timbers, made the same decision.
"We're only here for a couple of days, but [Porter] did a good job of outlining how he wanted us to play and how he wanted us to defend," Edu said. "He told us to go out there and enjoy ourselves, but at the same time take pride in this."
By the time you pick up today's Daily News, Edu will be back in Philadelphia and focused on tomorrow's game against Montreal (7 p.m., Comcast SportsNet). It's a must-win game for the Union's playoff hopes, as the Impact - featuring former Union striker Jack McInerney - is in last place in the Eastern Conference.
The Union is in seventh place, three points out of fifth place and the last playoff spot. But they've lost just one league game in their last nine, a stretch that dates back to May 31.
"I've been confident in this team from the beginning, and I've always believed we can achieve something special this year," Edu told reporters earlier in the week. "Now we're starting to get the results we want. It's a matter of building off that and continuing to play the good soccer we've been playing."