STANFORD, Calif. (AP) — Four years later, Maurice Edu still doesn't know why his goal against Slovenia was disallowed.
After the U.S. gave up a pair of first-half goals, Landon Donovan and Michael Bradley scored to leave the Americans even at 2-2 in Johannesburg's Ellis Park.
Edu volleyed in Donovan's free kick in the 85th minute, but it was whistled off by referee Koman Coulibaly of Mali, who has never explained his decision. With the 2-2 draw, the U.S. needed Donovan's stoppage-time goal against Algeria to secure a place in the second round.
"When it first happened, I watched it a few times and didn't know the call on the pitch, didn't know the call afterward," Edu said Friday. "To have been that close and have it taken away did kind of suck, but now the focus is try to do it again and have it count."
Now 28, Edu is trying to make the World Cup roster for the second time. He made three appearances four years ago, entering at the start of the second half against Slovenia, starting versus Algeria and entering in the 31st minute of the second-round loss to Ghana.
After spending six years with European clubs, Edu returned to the United States in search of playing time that could help him earn a trip to Brazil.
On loan from Stoke to the Philadelphia Union, Edu sustained a concussion last Saturday when he collided with D.C. United's Chris Korb in a Major League Soccer game. He was held out of Wednesday's match at Kansas City and reported to the U.S. national team, where he has been cleared to practice.
The Californian joked and laughed with teammates as they jogged around Maloney Field at Cagan Stadium on Friday. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann looked on as prepares to cut seven players to get down to the 23-man limit by June 2.
Players took turns dribbling the ball off their knee and passing it to one another as they jogged. When the ball hit the ground, the players did likewise and did a series of push-ups.
While the practices have been primarily private, with media allowed minimal access, the U.S. team did get a surprise visit from former Women's World Cup star Brandi Chastain, who watched practice with son Jaden and a friend.
Before being allowed to practice with the national team, Edu had to pass concussion tests.
"I feel good now," Edu said. "We've gone through the typical protocol, and I'm just looking forward to this week of training."
Selected MLS Rookie of the Year in 2007 with Toronto, Edu moved to Glasgow Rangers for the 2008-09 season and was in position to earn a trip with the U.S. to the Confederations Cup when a ligament in his left knee was torn after a strong challenge by Dundee United's Darren Dods on May 24, 2009.
Edu returned Dec. 27, helped the Rangers win consecutive Scottish Premier League titles, then left for Stoke when financial problems caused Rangers to be relegated to Scottish soccer's fourth tier for the 2012-13 season
He made just one appearances for the Potters, entering in the 81st minute of a 0-0 tie against Liverpool on Oct. 7, then
Edu was sent to Turkey's Bursaspor on loan in January for the rest of the season. He didn't appear at all for Stoke in the first half of this season, then was loaned in January to the Union, who have an option to purchase his rights.
"I felt good when I made that decision," Edu said of leaving Europe. "I was confident that by doing well there, it would give me the opportunity to get back in this picture. Now it's about focusing here and getting on that plane to Brazil."
Edu is seen as competing with Kyle Beckerman as a potential backup to Jermaine Jones in defensive midfield. Edu also can play central defender.
"Being versatile helps your case in any team that you're trying to be a part of," Edu said. "If Klinsmann were to ask me to play center back, of course I would. I want this team to be as strong as possible."