Fontana’s Maurice Edu has followed his first World Cup by playing a big role in Rangers FC’s perfect start to the Scottish Premier League season, and this week brings a reward of sorts.
Edu (Etiwanda HS) will be looking to bring the Glasgow-based club victories against Spain’s Valencia in the UEFA Champions League and “Old Firm” rival Celtic in a showdown for the top spot in the SPL.
“In terms of club football, this is possibly one of the biggest weeks of my career so far,” Edu, the 2007 Major League Soccer Rookie of the Year, told Rangers’ website. “It's not often a Champions League game and an Old Firm game come in the same week, but I'm looking forward to the two matches, and everyone's excited.”
Rangers is 8-0-0 in the SPL and ahead of Celtic (also 8-0-0) on goal difference; the Blues also share the top spot in the Champions League’s Group C with Manchester United (both are 1-0-1), and Valencia has been among Spain’s finest clubs not named Barcelona or Real Madrid.
The game against Valencia will be at Ibrox, Rangers’ home. They’ll head across town to Celtic Park for Sunday’s clash in what probably is the world’s greatest rivalry, any sport.
“Having played a few games for USA recently and most of the games for Rangers this season, I feel like I'm ready for it,” Edu said. “It'll be a big test against Valencia, but we'll all be up for it at Ibrox. We're in a good position in the Champions League, and we want to keep that going. …
“When that's done, our attention will turn to Celtic.”
Rangers isn’t expected to finish ahead of Man United and Valencia in Group C -- only the top two advance to the round of 16 -- but the club gained a scoreless draw in their group opener at Manchester United, then beat Turkey’s Bursaspor at Ibrox.
The Celtic game is bigger from a cultural standpoint. It’s a sectarian rivalry -- Rangers is a Protestant club and Celtic is Catholic -- rich in history, both triumphant and tragic, since its May 1888 debut. The Blues have the edge, with 155 wins, 140 losses and 93 draws, and they’ve got a 116-97-83 mark in league meetings.
But first things first. Valencia is 1-1-0 in Champions League play and 5-1-1 in Spain’s La Liga, in which it is among three clubs one point behind first-place Real Madrid.
“We're in a good position, and it would be foolish to get too far ahead of ourselves, but we have belief and know what we're capable of achieving,” Edu said. “If we stick together and stay united, the potential's there for something special in the Champions League this season. I'm not sure if we're exceeding expectations. … I don't know if we've surpassed the goals we set ourselves, but I know this is where we wanted to be.
“When the Champions League draw was made, I know a lot of people counted us out. But with the squad we've got, I felt we could do something, and we're on track."
YURA STRIKES AGAIN: Pasadena’s Yura Movsisyan (Pasadena HS/Pasadena City College) scored again, his 13th in all competitions for Denmark’s Randers, converting an eighth-minute penalty kick in a 1-1 draw Monday with FC Midtjylland.
The Horses are 10th in the 12-team league, but Movsisyan, who played has definitely been a bright spot. The goal was his fourth in Denmark’s top-tier SAS-Ligaen, and he also has three for Armenia’s national team. That’s 16 in all this season.
ETC.: Former UCLA star Brad Friedel shut out Chelsea as Aston Villa held the English Premier League leader to a 0-0 draw. … Saint-Etienne, with Carlos Bocanegra (Alta Loma/Alta Loma HS and UCLA) remained second in France’s Ligue 1 after a 2-1 loss at Nice. … Michael Bradley (Manhattan Beach) and Borussia Moenchengladbach are winless in their last six games after a 3-2 loss at 1899 Hoffenheim. Gladbach was down to nine men by the end following two second-half yellow cards. … Sacha Kljestan (Huntington Beach/Huntington Beach HS) has not played since Aug. 21 for Belgian champion RSC Anderlecht, 10 games in all. … Matt Taylor (Irvine/Irvine HS and UCLA) played on after taking an elbow to the face in Rot Weiss Ahlen’s 1-1 draw with SV Sandhausen in Germany’s 3.Bundesliga.
AREA PLAYERS IN EUROPE
D CARLOS BOCANEGRA (Alta Loma/UCLA)
Club: Saint-Etienne (France, Ligue 1)
Last week: 90 minutes at left back as the second-place Les Verts (5-2-2) lost, 2-1, Sunday at Nice.
Season: 8 games (8 starts)
Next: Saturday vs. fifth-place Brest (4-2-3)
M MICHAEL BRADLEY (Manhattan Beach)
Club: Borussia Moenchengladbach (Germany, Bundesliga)
Last week: 90 minutes as the 15th-place Die Fohlen (1-4-3) were beaten, 3-2, Sunday at 1899 Hoffenheim
Season: 8 league games (8 starts) with 1 goal; 9 games (9 starts) with 2 goals in all competitions
Next: Saturday vs. 11th-place Werder Bremen (3-3-2)
D JAY DENNY (Santa Monica)
Club: Hednesford Town (England, Southern League Premier Division)
This week: 90 minutes as the Pitmen were eliminated from the F.A. Trophy competition in a 2-1 qualifying first-round loss to Whitby Town
Season: 12 games (12 starts) in league play, 2 games (2 starts) in cup competitions, 14 games (14 starts) in all competitions
Next: Saturday vs. last-place Weymouth (2-6-3)
M MAURICE EDU (Fontana)
Club: Rangers FC (Scotland, Premier Division)
This week: Started and played 86 minute, picking up a yellow card, as the Blues (8-0-0) climbed back into first place with a 4-1 victory Saturday over Motherwell
Season: 8 league games (6 starts), 10 games (9 starts) in all competitions
Next: UEFA Champions League Group C match Wednesday vs. Valencia (Spain), SPL “Old Firm” clash Sunday at second-place Celtic (8-0-0)
M BENNY FEILHABER (Irvine/UCLA)
Club: AGF Aarhus (Denmark, 1.Division)
This week: 90 minutes as first-place Dettvie (6-0-3) rout FC Hjorring, 3-0, on Sunday
Season: 8 league games (8 starts) with 2 goals, 10 games (9 starts) overall with 5 goals
Next: Wednesday vs. 15th-place FC Fyn (2-6-2), Sunday at ninth-place Skive (3-4-4)
G BRAD FRIEDEL (Bay Village, Ohio/UCLA)
Club: Aston Villa (England, Premier Division)
This week: 90 minutes, making four saves for his third shutout of the season, as the eighth-place Villans (3-3-2) held EPL leader Chelsea to a 0-0 draw
Season: 8 games (8 starts), 12 goals allowed, 35 saves, 3 shutouts
Next: Saturday at 13th-place Sunderland (1-1-6)
M SACHA KLJESTAN (Huntington Beach)
Club: RSC Anderlecht (Belgium, Jupiler League)
This week: Did not play as Les Mauves et Blancs (6-2-3) dropped to third with a 1-0 loss Sunday at Cercle Bruges
Season: 3 league games (2 starts) with one goal; 5 games (4 starts) with 2 goals in all competitions
Next: Wednesday in UEFA Europa League Group G match vs. AEK Athens (Greece), Sunday vs. 10th-place Westerlo (4-4-3)
D DALLAS MOORE (Santa Monica)
Club: Halesowen Town FC (England, Southern League Premier Division)
This week: Missed fourth and fifth games with a hamstring injury as the Yeltz lost Tuesday at Coleshill Town (3-1) in a Birmingham Senior Cup first-rounder and Saturday at Cirencester Town (3-0) in an F.A. Trophy first-round qualifier
Season: 10 games (10 starts)
Next: Tuesday at 21st-place Oxford City (0-7-5), Saturday vs. 11th place Didcot Town (4-5-2)
F YURA MOVSISYAN (Pasadena)
Club: Randers (Denmark, SAS-Ligaen/Superliga)
This week: 90 minutes, scored on eighth-minute penalty kick, as 10th-place Horses (2-3-7) drew, 1-1, Monday with FC Midtjylland
Season: 12 league games (11 starts) with 4 goals, 19 games (16 starts) and 13 goals in all competitions
Next: Sunday at Brondby (4-4-4)
F MATT TAYLOR (Irvine/UCLA)
Club: Rot Weiss Ahlen (Germany, 3. Bundesliga)
This week: 90 minutes as lone forward as 17th-place Rot Weiss (1-4-7) drew, 1-1, Saturday with SV Sandhausen
Season: 6 games (6 starts) with 2 goals
Next: Saturday at 18th-place Bayern Munich II (1-6-5)