Tuesday May 17th, 2011

Maurice Edu's up-and-down season ended with him standing on the winner's podium yet again.

Rangers FC won its third consecutive Scottish Premier League championship over the weekend, and Edu has been a part of all three ever since he joined the club in 2008 from Major League Soccer's Toronto FC.

This season hasn't always been a walk in the park, for Edu or Rangers, though.

Edu took on more of an attacking midfield role in his third year at Ibrox Stadium than he ever had before. The Fontana, Calif., native scored a couple of highlight-reel goals, maintained his status as a hawk in the 6-yard box, became the first American to tally in the UEFA Champions League since 2007 and scored a crucial goal that kept the club's UEFA Europa League hopes alive for one more round.

He also went through a dip in form that aroused quite a bit of negative reaction from the Rangers faithful in recent weeks.

While both Edu and Rangers ended up on top of the table, there was a time when the club dropped to an unthinkable third place during the season. The team also lost to rival Celtic twice in a two-week span, one of those games coming in the Scottish Cup.

On top of all that, there was the added dynamic of knowing that manager Walter Smith would make way for assistant Ally McCoist at the end of the season.

"It's been a long season for the club," Edu told Rangers' team website. "We've had a lot to deal with, but we've dug deep and got some great results in difficult circumstances. Now we have the chance to celebrate the success that we worked so hard for."

Between the league championship and League Cup double and the spot in next season's Champions League, Edu's perseverance has been rewarded with first-place glory.

The same cannot be said for Sacha Kljestan and Oguchi Onyewu, who both had chances at earning league titles slip away.

Kljestan's Anderlecht got tripped up yet again in Belgium's top-flight playoffs and will finish in third place, thus missing out on the Champions League.

Although Onyewu's parent club, AC Milan, won a league title, his current team, FC Twente, fell from first place on the final day of the season. A win or a draw in the season finale would have cemented a second consecutive league crown, but the club's 3-1 loss to Ajax dethroned Twente and banished it to second place.

Robbie Findley is another American whose club came close to achieving success only to fall short. His Nottingham Forest dropped its promotion semifinal tie to Swansea City on Monday, settling for another season in the League Championship instead of playing for a chance to reach the Premier League. Findley didn't take part in the playoffs at all, as he battled through a lingering thigh injury that cost him three months of the season after his transfer in the winter.

Freddy Adu is still alive in the promotion hunt, though, as his Caykur Rizespor clinched a place in Turkey's 1. Lig promotion playoffs with a win over the league champion in the regular-season finale.

On the complete other end of the spectrum are Ricardo Clark and Jonathan Spector, who both had their teams relegated from top-flight status over the weekend. While Clark has two more years on his deal at Eintracht Frankfurt and figures to be part of the effort to get the club back to the Bundesliga, Spector is out of contract, and his future is very much uncertain as West Ham will look to shred salary while preparing for life in the Championship.

No Americans scored goals during the past week, but there were some notable appearances, including Michael Bradley's first for Aston Villa in more than two months. Here's how he and the rest of the Americans playing abroad fared over the past week (statistics encompass all competitions):

Premier League

Michael Bradley, M, Aston Villa - In the 18, came on as an 80th-minute substitute in Villa's 2-1 victory over Arsenal on Sunday. The minutes were Bradley's first since a start in an FA Cup match on March 2, and it was just his third appearance since joining Villa on loan this winter. SEASON: 25 games, 21 starts, 4 goals

Clint Dempsey, M/F, Fulham - Started, played 88 minutes and picked up a yellow card in Fulham's 2-0 victory over Birmingham on Sunday. SEASON: 41 games, 38 starts, 13 goals

Brad Friedel, GK, Aston Villa - Started, played 90 minutes and made five saves in Villa's 2-1 victory over Arsenal on Sunday. SEASON: 41 games, 41 starts, 130 saves, 62 goals allowed, 6 clean sheets

Brad Guzan, GK, Aston Villa - Not in the 18 for Villa's 2-1 victory over Arsenal on Sunday. SEASON: 19 games, 19 starts, 96 saves, 19 goals allowed, 5 clean sheets

Marcus Hahnemann, GK, Wolverhampton - In the 18, did not play in Wolves' 3-1 victory over Sunderland on Saturday. SEASON: 17 games, 17 starts, 59 saves, 28 goals allowed, 1 clean sheet

Tim Howard, GK, Everton - Started, played 90 minutes and made three saves in Everton's 1-0 loss to West Brom on Saturday. SEASON: 41 games, 41 starts, 117 saves, 49 goals allowed, 8 clean sheets

Jermaine Jones, M, Blackburn - Started, played 74 minutes and picked up a yellow card in Blackburn's 1-1 draw with Manchester United on Saturday. SEASON: 30 games, 29 starts, 1 goal

Eric Lichaj, D, Aston Villa - Not in the 18 for Villa's 2-1 victory over Arsenal on Sunday. SEASON: 24 games, 22 starts

Jonathan Spector, M/D, West Ham - Started, played 61 minutes in West Ham's 3-2 loss to Wigan Athletic on Sunday. West Ham is guaranteed to be relegated to the League Championship, as the loss cemented the team's last-place finish in the league. Spector is out of contract at the end of the season, and his future with the club is uncertain. SEASON: 21 games, 15 starts, 4 goals

Championship

Robbie Findley, F, Nottingham Forest - Not in the 18 for Nottingham Forest's 0-0 draw with Swansea City in the first leg of their promotion playoff semifinal on Thursday or for the club's 3-1 loss to Swansea in the return leg on Monday. Forest failed to gain promotion and will remain in the League Championship next season. SEASON: 2 games

Bundesliga

DaMarcus Beasley, M, Hannover 96 - Not in the 18 for Hannover's season-ending, 3-1 victory over FC Nurnberg on Saturday. SEASON: 4 games Timmy Chandler, M/D, FC Nurnberg - Started, played 90 minutes in Nurnberg's season-ending, 3-1 loss to Hannover 96 on Saturday. SEASON: 16 games, 11 starts, 1 goal

Steve Cherundolo, D, Hannover 96 - Started, played 90 minutes and picked up a yellow card in Hannover's season-ending, 3-1 victory over FC Nurnberg on Saturday. Hannover finished fourth in the league and will be a participant in the 2011-2012 UEFA Europa League. SEASON: 34 games, 34 starts

Ricardo Clark, M/D, Eintracht Frankfurt - Not in the 18 for Frankfurt's season-ending, 3-1 loss to Borussia Dortmund on Saturday. Frankfurt was relegated to the 2. Bundesliga for next season with the loss. Clark had a calf injury for the final few games of the season. SEASON: 12 games, 9 starts

Daniel Williams, D, SC Freiburg - Not in the 18 for Freiburg's season-ending, 1-0 loss to Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday. SEASON: 8 games, 2 starts

2. Bundesliga

Edson Buddle, F, FC Ingolstadt 04 - Not in the 18 for Ingolstadt's season-ending, 1-0 loss to VfL Osnabruck on Sunday. SEASON: 14 games, 7 starts, 3 goals

Luis Robles, GK, Karlsruhe SC - In the 18, did not play in Karlsruhe's season-ending, 3-2 victory over FC Union Berlin on Sunday. SEASON: 23 games, 22 starts, 74 saves, 44 goals allowed, 4 clean sheets

Bobby Wood, F, TSV 1860 Munich - Not in the 18 for Munich's season-ending, 3-2 loss to SC Paderborn 07 on Sunday. SEASON: 5 games

David Yelldell, GK, MSV Duisburg - Started, played 90 minutes and made three saves in Duisburg's season-ending, 3-1 loss to VfL Bochum on Sunday. SEASON: 39 games, 39 starts, 93 saves, 38 goals allowed, 13 clean sheets

3. Liga

Matt Taylor, F, Rot Weiss Ahlen - Started, played 90 minutes in Rot Weiss Ahlen's season-ending, 2-0 loss to Hansa Rostock on Saturday. SEASON: 30 games, 30 starts, 17 goals

Ligue 1

Carlos Bocanegra, D, St. Etienne - Started, played 90 minutes in St. Etienne's 2-1 loss to Lille on Tuesday. Bocanegra also started, played 90 minutes and picked up a yellow card in St. Etienne's 2-1 loss to his former team, Stade Rennes, on Sunday. SEASON: 34 games, 34 starts, 2 goals

Eredivisie

Oguchi Onyewu, D, FC Twente Enschede - Not in the 18 for Twente's second-ending, 3-1 loss to Ajax on Sunday. The loss dropped Twente from first place to second on the final day of the season and ended the team's quest to repeat as league champion. Twente will have to go through the qualifying rounds to be entered into the UEFA Champions League draw. SEASON: 14 games, 13 starts

Super Lig

Jozy Altidore, F, Bursaspor - In the 18, came on as a 74th-minute substitute in Bursaspor's 3-0 victory over Kasimpasa on Sunday. SEASON: 24 games, 12 starts, 3 goals

1. Lig

Freddy Adu, M, Caykur Rizespor - Started, played 90 minutes in Rizespor's 2-1 victory over Samsunspor on Sunday. Adu's corner kick led to the opening goal of the match. With the win, Rizespor clinched a spot in the league's four-team promotion playoff. SEASON: 11 games, 9 starts, 4 goals

Eerste Klasse

Sacha Kljestan, M, RSC Anderlecht - Started, played 90 minutes in Anderlecht's 4-1 victory over Gent in the eighth game of the Belgian playoff hexagonal on Wednesday. Kljestan also started and played 90 minutes in Anderlecht's 2-1 loss to Standard Liege in the penultimate match of the hexagonal. The loss cemented Anderlecht in third place despite having one game remaining, meaning that the club will participate in the UEFA Europa League next season. SEASON: 32 games, 27 starts, 3 goals

Liga de Honra

Greg Garza, D, G.D. Estoril Praia - In the 18, did not play in Estoril's 1-0 loss to Feirense on Sunday. SEASON: 2 games

Tony Taylor, F, G.D. Estoril Praia - Not in the 18 for Estoril's 1-0 loss to Feirense on Sunday. SEASON: 19 games, 4 starts, 4 goals

Premier League

Dominic Cervi, GK, Celtic FC - Not in the 18 for Celtic's 3-0 victory over Heart of Midlothian on Wednesday or for Celtic's season-ending, 4-0 victory over Kilmarnock on Sunday. SEASON: 0 games

Maurice Edu, M, Rangers FC - Started, played 90 minutes in Rangers' 2-0 victory over Dundee United on Tuesday. Edu also started and played 90 minutes in Rangers' season-ending, 5-1 victory over Motherwell on Sunday. Rangers won the Scottish Premier League title for the third consecutive season and will be a participant in next season's UEFA Champions League. SEASON: 47 goals, 40 starts, 5 goals

Superliga

Clarence Goodson, D, Brondby IF - Started, played 90 minutes in Brondby's 1-0 loss to FC Midtjylland on Sunday. SEASON: 7 games, 6 starts, 1 goal

Michael Parkhurst, D, FC Nordsjaelland - Started, played 90 minutes in Nordsjaelland's 3-2 victory over Silkeborg on Sunday. SEASON: 20 games, 19 starts

Chris Rolfe, F, Aalborg BK - In the 18, did not play in Aalborg's 0-0 draw with Esbjerg on Sunday. SEASON: 5 games, 3 starts, 1 goal

Tippeligaen

Sean Cunningham, D, Molde FK - Started, played 90 minutes and picked up a yellow card in Molde's 2-1 victory over fourth-tier club Traeff in the second round of the NM Cupen (Norwegian Cup) on Wednesday. Cunningham was not in the 18 for Molde's 3-0 victory over Lillestrom in league play on Monday. SEASON: 2 games, 2 starts

Mikkel Diskerud, M, Stabaek - Started, played 90 minutes in Stabaek's 2-1 victory over third-tier club Hasle-Loren in the second round of the NM Cupen on Wednesday. Diskerud also started and played 90 minutes in Stabaek's 1-0 loss to Sogndal in league play on Monday. SEASON: 9 games, 9 starts

Josh Gatt, M, Molde FK - Started, played 90 minutes in Molde's 2-0 victory over fourth-tier club Traeff in the second round of the NM Cupen on Wednesday. Gatt was not in the 18 for Molde's 3-0 victory over Lillestrom in league play on Monday. Both Cunningham and Gatt are on international duty with the United States Under-20 national team. SEASON: 7 games, 3 starts

Allsvenskanliga

Gale Agbossoumonde, D, Djurgardens IF - Started, played 90 minutes in Djurgardens' 2-1 victory over third-tier club IFK Lulea in the third round of the Svenska Cupen (Swedish Cup) on Wednesday. Agbossoumonde also started and played 90 minutes in Djurgardens' 0-0 draw with Gefle in league play on Sunday. SEASON: 7 games, 6 starts

Alejandro Bedoya, M, Orebro SK - In the 18, came on as a 72nd-minute substitute, picked up a yellow card and converted his spot kick in the shootout round of Orebro's 2-2 (4-2 in penalties) victory over second-tier club Ljungskile SK in the third round of the Svenska Cupen on Wednesday. Bedoya started, played 90 minutes and picked up a yellow card in Orebro's 2-1 loss to Malmo FF in league play on Sunday. SEASON: 9 games, 8 starts, 3 goals

Ryan Miller, D, Halmstads BK - In the 18, came on as an 82nd-minute substitute in Halmstads' 1-0 victory over Mjallby on Saturday. SEASON: 2 games

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

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