D.C. United, which signed the Ghana-born star when he was 14, traded Adu, along with keeper Nick Rimando, for reserve goalie Jay Nolly, a major player allocation and significant future considerations.
Adu, who moved to the USA at age 8 with his family through the Diversity Immigrant Visa Lottery Program, garnered interest from European clubs by age 12. He joined the U-17 residency camp in Bradenton and played in the 2003 U-17 World Cup. A month before his 14th birthday he became the youngest American soccer player to sign an endorsement contract when he agreed to a $1 million deal with Nike.
Upon signing with D.C. United in 2004 he became the league's highest paid player that season. His $550,000 salary in 2006 made him D.C. United's highest earner and fourth in the league.
While Adu's early play in MLS didn't meet rise to phenom heights, he did create a spike in attendance for D.C. United road games during his first season.
Adu, who scored had 11 goals and 17 assists in 87 regular-season games for D.C. United, will reunite in Salt Lake City with head coach John Ellinger, who was Adu's U.S. U-17 national team coach.
Adu gave one of his best performances in the 2006 semifinal against New England, but was subbed by Coach Peter Nowakin the 65th minute of the 1-0 loss.
In 2005, Nowak suspended Adu for a playoff game for complaining about a lack of playing time.
"It was not an easy decision," United President Kevin Payne told the Washington Post. "Freddy has been an important part of our team, but we saw an opportunity to do something for both him and for the future of our team.
"Freddy wanted to play central midfield or withdrawn forward. On our team, that's Christian Gomezand Jaime Moreno and that wasn't likely to happen."