Tuesday March 1st, 2011

Maurice Edu has scored his fair share of crucial goals. He's also had one infamously waved off on the world's biggest stage.

This time, the referee kept his whistle silent and pointed to the center circle, validating the American midfielder's monumental strike.

Edu's goal in second-half stoppage time of Rangers FC's UEFA Europa League second-leg knockout match with Sporting Lisbon on Thursday put Rangers through to the competition's Round of 16 in dramatic fashion and further etched his name among the clutch American goal scorers in Europe.

With Sporting going ahead a goal on aggregate after an 83rd-minute tally and the home crowd prematurely celebrating victory, Rangers didn't wilt, and Edu came through.

"It still felt like we were in the game," Edu told SI.com. "We kept pushing on. We were still hopeful and still believing in ourselves. It's just a credit to the determination and desire we had to stay in that competition."

Rangers pushed forward into the attacking third, and when David Healy whipped in a cross from the right toward the goal mouth, three unmarked Rangers players were in position to score the decisive away goal.

Edu was the first to get a touch on the cross, sliding and tapping the ball into the back of the net. The goal kept Rangers' European dreams alive, much like Clint Dempsey's wonder-chip against Juventus did for Fulham last season.

"We knew we had to get a goal to get back in the game and advance," Edu said. "We were trying to push forward, and that was kind of reflected by how many bodies we had in the box ready to put that goal in. It was a crazy experience, especially coming that late in the game, but it makes it that much sweeter."

The last 12 months have yielded some major moments for Edu. Late last February, he scored a 90th-minute game-winner against rival Celtic that helped Rangers maintain a stronghold at the top of the Scottish Premier League table. This season he not only put his team through to the next knockout round of the Europa League, but he also became the first American to score in the UEFA Champions League since DaMarcus Beasley did in 2007 with his goal against Valencia in October.

"It's definitely up there [among my top moments]," Edu said of Thursday's goal. "If we go on to do really well in this tournament, it's something that I can look back on and really appreciate that I played a part and was able to help the team out. The Celtic goal is up there for obvious reasons. It was a game that helped us win a championship. I can obviously reflect on that and know I played a part, so hopefully this will be similar situation."

Sandwiched between all of those other moments is his would-be match-winner for the United States against Slovenia during the World Cup that was disallowed by referee Koman Coulibaly for a yet-to-be-explained reason.

"I don't think there is an explanation for it to be honest," Edu said. "After the World Cup, I watched video of that game over and over, just trying to figure out what went wrong. Just like everyone who's seen the video, there wasn't anything wrong on our part. If anything there could've been a couple of fouls called on their players. I look back and thought, 'Man, I could've had it,' but you move on, and hopefully I have another opportunity in the future."

Opportunities for Edu with the national team should be aplenty over the next few months as the United States prepares for the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Edu figures to be a lock for this summer's roster, though his role on the team is still undetermined, especially with other players like Stuart Holden, Jermaine Jones and Michael Bradley vying for starting jobs at central midfield.

For Rangers, Edu has thrived as a box-to-box contributor. Internationally, though, he has been confined to more of a holding role -- and even some center back -- by U.S. coach Bob Bradley.

"People label me as a defensive midfielder, but I've always seen myself as more of a box-to-box type player," Edu said. "I have the ability to break up plays, but I like to get forward. This season especially, my manager here [Walter Smith] has encouraged me to try to get forward.

"[Center back] is a new position for me, and it's something that over my career I haven't spent too much time playing there. I'm more comfortable and can contribute more in the midfield. I've played midfield my whole career, and I know what I'm capable of doing, and I know what I can bring to the team from that position, whereas playing in the back is kind of a fairly new position to me and is still kind of a learning process.

"It's one of those things where I want to play for the national team, so if playing in the back is where I'm going to be playing at different times, then I'll obviously try to help the team out as much as I can."

There will be more opportunities for Edu to add to his big-game tally with Rangers this season as well. Rangers trails Celtic by five points in the league table but has eight games remaining, two of those in hand. The Old Firm rivals also have a date scheduled for Wednesday with a spot in the Scottish Cup quarterfinals on the line and a match in the League Cup final on March 20. Mixed in with that is the club's Europa League final 16 tie with Dutch power PSV Eindhoven, with away and home legs slated for March 10 and 17, respectively.

"PSV's a good side," Edu said. "It's another club that has a lot of history. It'll be a tough task, but we match up with them fairly well."

In addition to Edu and his heroics, here is how the rest of the Americans playing abroad -- including goal-scorer Edson Buddle -- fared over the past week (statistics encompass all competitions):

Premier League

Michael Bradley, M, Aston Villa -- In the 18, did not play in Villa's 4-1 victory over Blackburn on Saturday. SEASON: 23 games, 20 starts, 4 goals

Clint Dempsey, M/F, Fulham -- Started, played 90 minutes in Fulham's 1-1 draw with Manchester City on Sunday. SEASON: 33 games, 30 starts, 10 goals

Brad Friedel, GK, Aston Villa -- Started, played 90 minutes and made one save in Villa's 4-1 victory over Blackburn on Saturday. SEASON: 31 games, 31 starts, 98 saves, 48 goals allowed, 5 clean sheets

Marcus Hahnemann, GK, Wolverhampton -- In the 18, did not play in Wolves' 4-0 victory over Blackpool on Saturday. SEASON: 17 games 17 starts, 59 saves, 28 goals allowed, 1 clean sheet

Stuart Holden, M, Bolton -- Started, played 90 minutes in Bolton's 1-1 draw with Newcastle on Saturday. SEASON: 26 games, 24 starts, 2 goals

Tim Howard, GK, Everton -- Started, played 90 minutes, made four saves and earned the clean sheet in Everton's 2-0 victory over Sunderland on Saturday. SEASON: 30 games, 30 starts, 86 saves, 39 goals allowed. 6 clean sheets

Jermaine Jones, M, Blackburn -- Started, played 90 minutes and picked up a yellow card in Blackburn's 4-1 loss to Aston Villa on Saturday. SEASON: 21 games, 20 starts, 1 goal

Jonathan Spector, M/D, West Ham -- In the 18, came on as an 82nd-minute substitute in West Ham's 3-1 victory over Liverpool on Sunday. SEASON: 15 games, 11 starts, 4 goals

Championship

Conor Doyle, F, Derby County -- In the 18, did not play in Derby County's 1-0 loss to Hull City on Tuesday. Doyle was also in the 18 but did not play in Derby County's 1-0 victory over Sheffield United on Saturday. SEASON: 11 games, 4 starts

Brad Guzan, GK, Hull City -- Started, played 90 minutes, made five saves and earned the clean sheet in Hull's 1-0 victory over Derby County on Tuesday. Guzan also started, played 90 minutes and made two saves in Hull's 2-0 loss to Cardiff City on Saturday. His loan to Hull expired after Saturday's match, and he will return to Aston Villa for the remainder of the season. SEASON: 14 games, 14 starts, 62 saves, 15 goals allowed, 4 clean sheets

Eddie Johnson, F, Preston North End -- Started, played 58 minutes in Preston North End's 2-2 draw with Nottingham Forest on Tuesday. Johnson was in the 18 and came on as a 69th-minute substitute in Preston North End's 2-1 loss to Burnley on Saturday. SEASON: 18 games, 6 starts

Eric Lichaj, D, Leeds United -- Started, played 90 minutes in Leeds' 3-3 draw with Barnsley on Tuesday. Lichaj also started, played 90 minutes and picked up a yellow card in Leeds' 3-0 loss to Swansea City on Saturday. SEASON: 12 games, 10 starts

Zak Whitbread, D, Norwich City -- Started, played 90 minutes in Norwich City's 1-1 draw with Doncaster Rovers on Tuesday. Norwich also started and played 90 minutes in Norwich City's 2-0 victory over Barnsley on Saturday. SEASON: 11 games, 9 starts

League One

Mike Grella, F, Swindon Town -- Grella, who was not in the 18 for parent club Leeds United's 3-3 draw with Barnsley on Tuesday, was sent to Swindon Town on an emergency loan for the remainder of the season on Thursday. Grella started and played 90 minutes in Swindon Town's 4-1 loss to Southampton on Saturday. SEASON: 13 games, 8 starts, 3 goals

Anton Peterlin, M, Plymouth Argyle -- In the 18, did not play in Plymouth Argyle's 4-0 loss to Brighton on Tuesday. Not in the 18 for Plymouth Argyle's 2-1 victory over Colchester United on Saturday. SEASON: 5 games, 4 starts

Frank Simek, D, Carlisle United -- Started, played 90 minutes in Carlisle's 2-2 draw with Exeter City on Tuesday. Simek also started and played 90 minutes in Carlisle's 1-0 loss to Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday. SEASON: 40 games, 40 starts

League Two

Jon-Paul Pittman, F, Wycombe Wanderers -- Started, played 65 minutes in Wycombe's 4-1 victory over Burton Albion on Tuesday. Pittman also started and played 72 minutes in Wycombe's 1-0 victory over Macclesfield Town on Saturday. SEASON: 11 games, 6 starts, 3 goals

Bundesliga

DaMarcus Beasley, M, Hannover 96 -- Not in the 18 for Hannover's 1-0 victory over St. Pauli on Saturday. SEASON: 4 games

Timothy Chandler, M/D, FC Nurnberg -- Started, played 90 minutes and picked up a yellow card in Nurnberg's 1-1 draw with FC Schalke 04 on Saturday. SEASON: 8 games, 3 starts, 1 goal

Steve Cherundolo, D, Hannover 96 -- Started, played 90 minutes in Hannover's 1-0 victory over St. Pauli on Saturday. SEASON: 24 games, 24 starts

Ricardo Clark, M/D, Eintracht Frankfurt -- Not in the 18 for Frankfurt's 2-0 loss to VfB Stuttgart on Sunday (due to injury). SEASON: 7 games, 4 starts

Daniel Williams, D, SC Freiburg -- Not in the 18 for Freiburg's 1-0 loss to FC Cologne on Saturday. SEASON: 5 games, 2 starts

2. Bundesliga

Edson Buddle, F, FC Ingolstadt 04 -- In the 18, came on as a 76th-minute substitute and scored a goal four minutes later in Ingolstadt's 4-1 victory over Karlsruhe SC on Sunday. Buddle headed home a free kick from close range for his first goal with the club since his debut performance. SEASON: 6 games, 4 starts, 2 goals

Luis Robles, GK, Karlsruhe SC -- Started, played 90 minutes, made two saves and picked up a yellow card in Karlsruhe's 4-1 loss to FC Ingolstadt 04 on Sunday. SEASON: 18 games, 18 starts, 65 saves, 37 goals allowed, 4 clean sheets

Bobby Wood, F, TSV 1860 Munich -- In the 18, came on as a 72nd-minute substitute in Munich's 1-0 victory over FC Union Berlin on Friday. SEASON: 4 games

Dave Yelldell, GK, MSV Duisburg -- Started, played 90 minutes made three saves and earned the clean sheet in Duisburg's 0-0 draw with RW Oberhausen on Friday. SEASON: 28 games, 28 starts, 70 saves, 22 goals allowed, 11 clean sheets

3. Liga

Matt Taylor, F, Rot Weiss Ahlen -- Started, played 90 minutes in Rot Weiss Ahlen's 3-0 loss to Eintracht Braunschweiger on Saturday. SEASON: 17 games, 17 starts, 10 goals

Ligue 1

Carlos Bocanegra, D, St. Etienne -- Started, played 90 minutes in St. Etienne's 2-0 loss to Nice on Saturday. SEASON: 23 games, 23 starts, 2 goals

Eredivisie

Oguchi Onyewu, D, FC Twente Enschede -- Started, played 90 minutes in Twente's 2-2 draw with Rubin Kazan in the second leg of their UEFA Europa League Round of 32 tie on Thursday. Twente advanced on aggregate, 4-2, and will face Zenit-St. Petersburg in the next knockout stage. Onyewu also started and played 90 minutes in Twente's 2-1 loss to AZ Alkmaar in league play on Sunday. SEASON: 8 games, 8 starts

Super Lig

Jozy Altidore, F, Bursaspor -- Not in the 18 for Bursaspor's 2-0 victory over Bucaspor on Friday. Altidore is still nursing the ankle injury he suffered in Bursaspor's last match. SEASON: 15 games, 9 starts, 2 goals

1. Lig

Freddy Adu, M, Caykur Rizespor -- Started, played 54 minutes in Rizespor's 0-0 draw with Gungoren Belediyespor on Sunday. SEASON: 2 games, 2 starts

Eerste Klasse

Sacha Kljestan, M, RSC Anderlecht -- In the 18, did not play in Anderlecht's 2-0 loss to Ajax Amsterdam in the second leg of their UEFA Europa League tie on Thursday. Anderlecht was eliminated by Ajax on aggregate, 5-0. SEASON: 24 games, 19 starts, 3 goals

Liga de Honra

Greg Garza, D, G.D. Estoril Praia -- Not in the 18 for Estoril's 0-0 draw with Penafiel on Sunday. SEASON: 1 game

Tony Taylor, F, G.D. Estoril Praia -- In the 18, came on as a 75th-minute substitute in Estoril's 0-0 draw with Penafiel on Sunday. SEASON: 17 games, 3 starts, 4 goals

Premier League

Dominic Cervi, GK, Celtic FC -- Not in the 18 for Celtic's 2-0 loss to Motherwell on Sunday. SEASON: 0 games

Maurice Edu, M, Rangers FC -- Started, played 90 minutes and scored a second-half, stoppage-time goal in Rangers' 2-2 draw with Sporting Lisbon in the second leg of their UEFA Europa League tie on Thursday. The goal put Rangers through to the final 16, as it tied up the aggregate score at 3-all and gave Rangers the tiebreaker on away goals. Edu also started and played 90 minutes in Rangers' 4-0 victory over St. Johnstone in league play on Sunday. SEASON: 30 games, 23 starts, 5 goals

Primera Division

Daniel Antunez, M/D, Estudiantes Tecos -- Not in the 18 for Tecos' 5-1 loss to Pumas UNAM on Sunday. SEASON: 2 games, 1 start

Jonathan Bornstein, M/D, Tigres UANL -- In the 18, did not play in Tigres' 3-0 victory over Puebla on Saturday. SEASON: 4 games, 4 starts

Edgar Castillo, D, Puebla -- Not in the 18 for Puebla's 3-0 loss to Tigres UANL on Saturday. SEASON: 4 games, 3 starts

Herculez Gomez, F, Pachuca -- In the 18, did not play in Pachuca's 0-0 draw with San Luis on Saturday. SEASON: 7 games, 3 starts

Sonny Guadarrama, M, Atlante -- In the 18, came on as a 55th-minute substitute in Atlante's 2-1 loss to Morelia on Sunday. SEASON: 6 games

Sammy Ochoa, F, Estudiantes Tecos -- Not in the 18 for Tecos' 5-1 loss to Pumas UNAM on Sunday. SEASON: 0 games

Jose Francisco Torres, M, Pachuca -- Started, played 90 minutes in Pachuca's 0-0 draw with San Luis on Saturday. SEASON: 5 games, 4 starts

Avi Creditor is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C.

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