TFC's Edu eager to see how he stacks up against Becks

DEAN MCNULTY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:11 AM ET

When Toronto FC faces off against L.A. Galaxy this afternoon at 3 p.m. in Carson, Calif., one team will have a future international star and the other will have an established one in the midfield.

It will be the first time TFC's 22-year-old Maurice Edu -- the 2007 Major League Soccer rookie of the year -- and Galaxy's 32-year-old David Beckham meet on the pitch.

And while Beckham will bank a whopping $6.5 million US this season and Edu will earn a relatively paltry $132,500, there already are comparisons between the pair being talked about in soccer circles.

Edu said in an interview with Sun Media prior to today's game that he's excited about playing against the English superstar, but only because he wants to gauge his progress as a pro in MLS.

"It will be fun playing against him," Edu said. "He's one of the greatest players ever so it will be exciting but I also want to leave my mark."

His mark right now is that most experts agree the native of nearby Fontana, Calif., might be ready to graduate to the top levels of European soccer as soon as next season.

Edu will play on a very good U.S. under-23 squad this summer at the Beijing Olympics -- a stage that could establish him as a premier international player in his own right.

Already, English premiership coach Martin O'Neill of Aston Villa has a been in contact with both TFC director of soccer Mo Johnston and Edu himself about training with the Villans after the MLS season.

"Ultimately, I want to play in Europe," Edu told CBC television recently. "Right now I'm happy where I'm at, though. I'm happy with Toronto, and I fell very comfortable and at home here. So for now, things are good."

Edu also wants to be able to give back something to his family -- father Maurice, mother Molly, brother Reggie and sisters Ugo, Imeh, and Molly who immigrated to the United States from Nigeria to start new lives.

And Edu said that all but Reggie -- who is a scholarship student at Evansville University -- will be at the Home Depot Center today to watch the game.

"It will be nice having every one here," he said. "They only get to see me on TV."

As for Beckham, he said yesterday that he wants his team to get off to a strong start against TFC after opening the MLS season with a 4-0 loss to Colorado Rapids and then a 2-0 win over the expansion San Jose Earthquake last weekend.

"It's always great to get off to a good start," he said. "We didn't in the first game but there was a lot of promise in the last game."


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