A little less than 14 months since Maurice Edu last played a soccer game, the former Union captain has come back to the spotlight. This week, Turner Sports hired him to be a regular analyst on the network's UEFA Champions League studio show, after a successful audition at the start of the month.
He has been reunited with some old friends on Turner's set. Edu played with fellow studio analysts Carlos Bocanegra, Tim Howard, and Stuart Holden with the U.S. national team, and knows Steve Nash from playing in Nash's celebrity soccer games.
"You want to see that kind of crossover between athletes from other sports who appreciate our game, because obviously we're big fans of them," said Edu, 32. "That's the direction that soccer is going nowadays."
Turner has made the most of that crossover appeal in its Champions League broadcasts. The network has taken criticism for making its coverage as much about off-the-field culture as on-the-field action, but that style appeals to Edu.
"They recognize that there is a connection between soccer and pop culture, and I feel like that really spoke to me," he said.
What else is Edu working on these days? He said he hasn't made an official decision on his future yet, but getting more into broadcasting definitely appeals to him.
"It has been a really trying year for me," Edu said. "When this opportunity came up, man, I was excited to pursue it. I was a little bit nervous, to be honest. But when everything kind of came around and I got the chance to go [to Turner] and audition, I felt very comfortable."
Edu still has some of his personal belongings in Philadelphia — including one of American soccer's most famous sneaker collections. He also still has an affinity for the Union, and has kept in touch with former teammates such as Derrick Jones and Auston Trusty.
"Jonesy took my old number . …. I would always give him stick about trying to follow in my footsteps," Edu said. "I was excited for them to both come up to the first team, and then this season Trusty is really taking his game to another level and has really cemented his place in that team."
Edu has also been impressed by Mark McKenzie, Trusty's back line partner. Edu got to know him during his last injury rehab at Bethlehem Steel, and immediately saw potential.
"For sure he's got a bright future ahead of him," Edu said. "From a physical standpoint, he was leaps and bounds above everyone else, but then he was just very calm and very comfortable on the ball, playing out of the back."