Ex-Rangers star Maurice Edu dreams of seeing Old Firm-esque rivalries in MLS

The Philadelphia Union skipper made 125 appearances for the Gers between 2008 and 2012.

Philadelphia Union midfielder Maurice Edu has told Reuters that he hopes MLS can go on develop traditions and rivalries like he witnessed during his time in Scottish football with Rangers.

Edu, 29, joined Rangers from Toronto FC in August 2008 for £2.7 million and went on to make 125 total appearances for the club over the next four seasons, while recording 12 goals and 11 assists.

As well as winning three straight Scottish Premier League titles with the Glasgow outfit, the US international also established himself a cult hero after scoring a stoppage-time winner against Old Firm rivals Celtic during the 2009-10 season.

The 2007 MLS Rookie of the Year still speaks in glowing terms of his time at Ibrox and, having since headed back to the States following a forgettable spell with Stoke, is keen to see the US game grow to the point where fans are born into rivalries like the one his former club and Celtic share.

Now captaining a team with one of the most passionate fanbases in MLS, he has been impressed with the strides the league has made forward during his time overseas but stresses that there is still a lot of work to be done.

"The Glasgow rivalry is unique and cannot be replicated and you will not see anything like that around the world," said Edu. "We want to get to a point where the traditions are so deep that when the kids are born they are born into that rivalry like what happens in Scotland.

"In Glasgow you are born into that rivalry and support either Rangers or Celtic, we want that in U.S., where you are born into an environment where you know this is my team, who I am cheering for and you know who you are cheering against. We are getting closer in the U.S.

"There are two inter-city rivalries in NY and LA but apart from these it is difficult due to the size of the country,” he added. "For Philadelphia the local rivals are DC United and the New York teams, the fans still get up for these and treat them as a derby.

"When these teams come to Philadelphia they are made to hate it, the fans give them stick and let them know who the home team is. When Thierry Henry came to play for the Red Bulls against Philadelphia he admitted to hating it.

"If any European fans came to USA and especially Philadelphia then they would be pleasantly surprised with the intensity of the atmosphere."

Having spent last season on loan at Philadelphia from Stoke, scoring three goals in 31 games, Edu secured a permanent move to PPL Park in the winter and has since taken over the captain’s armband following the departure of Amobi Okugo.

While his return to MLS has not led to the international recall he was hoping for, the 46-times capped veteran has still earned rave reviews for his performances at both centre-back and defensive midfield, as well as for his locker room leadership.

"I'd like to commend Maurice Edu for keeping the group together," head coach Jim Curtin told goal.com following last month’s 1-0 win over D.C. United that snapped a four-game losing streak.

"It's been a big step in his growth and his leadership. He's always been a great a player, an exceptional player. He has qualities that I can't teach or coach. He's really improved on being the man in the locker room who keeps everything going in the tough times.”

Set to stick around MLS now for the foreseeable future, Edu's return has been another sure sign of the league's recent growth and, even if he does not receive the same amount of headlines as big-name stars like Kaka, keeping domestic talent of his ilk around will prove fundamental to its development going forward.

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