Philadelphia Union midfielder Maurice Edu is one of 22 players who have been summoned by U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann for the April 2 friendly against Mexico in Glendale, Ariz.
The call-up marks a long-awaited return to the national team for Edu, who has 45 career caps. His last appearance on the field for Klinsmann was last year's scoreless draw at Mexico in World Cup qualifying.
As it happens, Wednesday's news came on the anniversary of that famous night at Estadio Azteca.
"I’m very happy to be called back in to camp," Edu said in a statement issued by the Union. "It has been a little while since I’ve been with the team. I’m excited to meet up with the group again and get back to wearing my country’s colors."
Edu is the third player in Union history to be called up by the national team while on Philadelphia's roster. Jeff Parke was the first in January of last year, and Jack McInerney was part of the Gold Cup roster last summer.
(Before you ask: yes, Freddy Adu and Michael Orozco have also played for the national team, but not while part of the Union.)
Neither Parke nor McInerney got onto the field in games, though. So if Edu plays against Mexico, he'll make some Union history.
It's highly likely that will happen. Though it's been a year since Edu last played for Klinsmann, he still has a chance of making the World Cup roster this summer. His ability to play multiple positions in midfield and defense could provide the national team with important depth.
Edu's return to Major League Soccer has also helped his prospects. Instead of languishing on a bench somewhere in Europe, he is in a leadership role at PPL Park. If his good form continues, he'll remain in the spotlight.
Klinsmann has clearly taken notice. He offered strong praise for Edu's start to the season in remarks on U.S. Soccer's website.
"To come back on loan, get playing time and jump into the Union team, become a leader right away and help them get off on the right foot in MLS shows that he understands that the timing has to be there now if he wants to play," Klinsmann said. "He could have sat there on the bench at Stoke maybe not playing much, and then there’s no chance for him to get on the World Cup roster. But he understood that, made the decision to come back and now he’s picking it up."
Klinsmann also addressed what he'll be looking for from Edu as the team prepares for next Wednesday's game.
"We’re looking for Mo to show us that sense of urgency," Klinsmann said. "We’re looking forward to have Mo back with us because once he’s in a rhythm, once he is fit and really zoomed in, then he’s a very good player.”
The roster as a whole is almost entirely MLS-based. As the game does not fall during a FIFA international window, clubs are not obligated to release their players for the occasion. MLS is happy to help the national team's cause, though, especially in a World Cup year. And with only a few months left until the plane leaves for Brazil, this could be the last chance for fringe players to make an impresion.
In addition to MLS' cooperation, Klinsmann secured the blessing of Mexican club Puebla to release defenders DaMarcus Beasley and Michael Orozco. They are the only representatives from the American contingent south of the border.
Just one player is coming over from Europe, but it's likely he'll get the most headlines of anyone in the squad. Julian Green, a reserve forward at Bayern Munich, recently switched his national team allegiance from Germany to the United States after Klinsmann recruited him to switch sides.
The 18-year-old was born in Tampa, Fla., to an American father and German mother. He carries dual citizenship, and played in Germany's youth program up to the under-19 level. Klinsmann laid on a sales pitch worthy of any college football or basketball coach to convince Green to switch sides.
it's a safe bet that Klinsmann used his deep ties to Bayern as he tried to seal the deal. Klinsmann played for the German powerhouse in the 1990s, and became the club's manager after his successful tenure in charge of Germany's national team.
Those efforts paid off earlier this month. Green filed the paperwork with FIFA for a one-time change of nationality, and the switch was quickly approved. It's likely that Green will make his U.S. debut next week.
"Bayern Munich did us a big favor to release him for possibly his first cap for the United States with the senior team," Klinsmann said.
If Green lives up to the hype, he could make the World Cup squad. But make no mistake: there's a lot of hype to live up to.
That metaphor of college sports recruiting applies again as we consider what Green may do on the field. We often see high school hotshots struggle to make a quick transition to a higher level in college. The jump from youth to senior national teams in soccer can easily be even greater.
Green is clearly a coup for Klinsmann, and should be treated as such. Any 18-year-old who makes his professional debut in the UEFA Champions League, as Green did for Bayern in November, is worthy of buzz.
Don't be discouraged, though, if Green doesn't live up to the hype right away. We have seen plenty of other American talents get hyped to the heavens but fizzle out on the field - and as Union fans know all too well, Adu sits at the top of the list.
Will Green be different? Perhaps, if fans give him time to grow instead of expecting him to star right away.
Klinsmann is well aware of Green's potential, and also of the fact that Green is only just starting down a long road.
"There's no reason for him to be nervous - it’s just a one-step-at-a-time process that he’s going through," Klinsmann said. "But Julian is very ambitious... I think he has the confidence to come in and say, ‘If the coach gives me the chance to play there, I want to show him that I want to go to Brazil.' "
Here's the full U.S. squad for next Wednesday's game against Mexico. Kickoff at the University of Phoenix Stadium is set for 11:15 p.m. Eastern. ESPN and UniMás will have the game live, though ESPN's pregame coverage will air on ESPN2 from 11:00 to 11:15.
Goalkeepers (3): Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
Defenders (8): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders), Omar Gonzalez (Los Angeles Galaxy), Clarence Goodson (San Jose Earthquakes), Michael Orozco (Puebla), Michael Parkhurst (Columbus Crew), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders)
Midfielders (7): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy), Maurice Edu (Philadelphia Union), Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
Forwards (4): Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Eddie Johnson (D.C. United), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)