INDIANAPOLIS -- Maurice Edu called deciding to forgo his final year of college to enter the Major League Soccer draft the most difficult decision of his life.
It turned out to be the right one.
"I had heard over the past couple of weeks that Toronto was very interested in taking me No. 1," Edu said. "But when you hear your name called, even though you might expect it, it's unreal."
Edu emerged as a front-runner for the top spot after declaring his intention to enter the draft last month. He helped Maryland to the 2005 NCAA national title. This past season, he started 20 games for the Terrapins, scoring five goals and adding four assists.
"It paid off," Edu said of his decision to go pro. "Now that I have this opportunity, I'm going to make the most of it. ... This is my first year in the league. This is their first year in the league so hopefully, we'll grow and be successful together."
That's also the hope of the Toronto coaching staff.
"I've seen Maurice the last three years at Maryland and he's always given quality performances," said Toronto assistant coach Bob Gansler. "He's of upstanding character and someone who's very anxious to succeed. You put all of that together and it for us was the best possible scenario."
Edu felt that as well, and had it reinforced by Toronto coach Mo Johnston, who pulled his No. 1 pick aside as he stepped off the podium.
"First thing he told me is, 'Mo, we're going to take care of you,'" Edu said. "Those were very comforting and reassuring words."
It was also a proud moment for Gansler's former player, University of Maryland coach Sasho Cirovski. Cirovski counseled Edu in his decision to enter the draft.
"At the end of the day, I thought Maurice was very ready for this opportunity," Cirovski said. "To be the No. 1 pick in the MLS was just a dream come true for him and a great source of pride for our program."
Cirovski believes Edu is well-prepared to handle the expectations of being the top pick, a sentiment the midfielder shares.
"I'm just excited about it," Edu said. "I feel like no matter what pick you get, obviously, every No. 1 has a little more weight on him but I don't feel that pressure right now. It's more of excitement for me right now. I'm just anxious to get out there and work."
Maria Burns covers college soccer for ESPNsoccernet. She can be reached at email@example.com.