Maurice Edu finds himself wading through traffic these days, no matter which uniform he is wearing.
The U.S. midfielder's transfer out of financially embattled Scottish club Rangers was a must for his career, and a move to the Premier League looked like a step forward for the talented 26-year-old. But two months into his tenure at Stoke City, the questions are starting to be raised as to whether it was the right move for his long-term prospects.
It is way too soon to make a complete judgment on the transfer, but the early returns have not been great. Edu has seen a total of 10 minutes on the field since making his move at the end of the summer transfer window, and he joined a team stocked at the positions he plays. Considering he is already locked in a multi-player bout for space in U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann's lineup, the lack of playing time on the club level will certainly not translate to a full role on the international level. In the last three qualifying matches under Klinsmann, Edu was a 72nd-minute substitute, an unused sub and a 78th-minute substitute. That is a far cry from the player who started seven of the previous eight matches for the national team.
"Mo right now is going through his initial stages in Stoke City and has to break into the team," Klinsmann said upon his inclusion of Edu for this month's World Cup qualifiers. "He hasn't had enough playing minutes over the last couple of weeks that we hoped he would have, but he's on the right track."
That track is not accelerating very quickly. His fight for time in central midfield under Stoke boss Tony Pulis has him battling the likes of Charlie Adam, Glenn Whelan, Dean Whitehead, Steven Nzonzi and Wilson Palacios. That leaves him behind in the battle for minutes with Danny Williams, Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones and Kyle Beckerman for a place in Klinsmann's central midfield, or with Carlos Bocanegra, Clarence Goodson and Stoke teammate Geoff Cameron for a place in his central defense. There is still time for Edu to stake a claim at Stoke and regain full match sharpness and fitness, especially with the next meaningful U.S. match not for more than three months, but Edu is running the risk of being the odd man out for both club and country during such a vital year.
While Edu is searching for a way into Stoke's lineup, a couple of Americans made notable returns to the their respective starting lineups last weekend. Tottenham goalkeeper Brad Friedel began another Premier League start streak by stepping in against Chelsea for Hugo Lloris, who had just ended Friedel's 310-game run prior to the international break.
Bolton center back Tim Ream benefited from manager Owen Coyle's dismissal, making his first start in about seven weeks, but he unfortunately conceded a penalty as part of the Trotters' 3-2 win under caretaker boss Jimmy Phillips. Ream and the rehabilitating Stuart Holden will now have to prove their worth to former Crystal Palace manager Dougie Freedman at Reebok Stadium, as his hire as Coyle's successor on Tuesday will directly impact their fortunes going forward.
The week around the world for Americans was quiet elsewhere. Alejandro Bedoya factored into a goal for Helsingborg against his former team Orebro in Sweden, and Jozy Altidore and Danny Williams were forced to sit out their respective matches through suspension. Here is how the Americans abroad fared upon the restart of club soccer after the international break (season statistics encompass all competitions):