Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
Adu needs clear view of his new world
by Ridge Mahoney, July 31st, 2007 7AM
Subscribe to Soccer America Daily

MOST READ
TAGS:  mls

MOST COMMENTED

Freddy Adu is within a few dollars of realizing his dream: a spot with a prestigious European team, in this case Benfica of Portugal, which has bid $2 million to buy his contract from MLS that expires at the end of this year. That figure is also about what MLS has paid him in salary since he signed a contract and is good value with so little time remaining.

No doubt if terms are successfully negotiated and he signs a deal with Benfica or another team, one of his first statements will pertain to being shackled and stifled in MLS, his creativity smothered, his talents squandered. Such a perception is perfectly understandable from a spoon-fed prodigy handed a half-million-dollar salary and lucrative endorsements at age 14, and anointed as great by those people who represent him and the league that embraced him. The perception is also perfectly wrong.

Adu has advanced as far as he has because of, not in spite of, MLS, which despite its deficiencies has been graced by some outstanding playmakers: Carlos Valderrama, Marco Etcheverry, Peter Nowak, Dwayne DeRosario, Preki, Amado Guevara and Christian Gomez, to name a few. Has at any point in his career Adu come close to the performances of those men? The emphasis is on men, for what he's done against teenagers in FIFA world championships isn't the same thing.

Adu believes MLS has held him back, first with D.C. United and then with Real Salt Lake, by snubbing his desire to play the central midfield maestro position he dearly covets and which he filled so well for the USA in the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup. The fact is, compared to most MLS starters in the attacking and playmaking positions, Adu hasn't been good enough, regardless of position.

At the start of the season, some D.C. fans may have taken Freddy over Fred. How about now? As poor as RSL has been this season, is there any reason to believe Adu could make it much better?

Some very good players haven't been named to the all-star teams or Best XI since Adu entered the league in 2004. Adu's performances haven't surpassed more than one or two of them, if that many. He's done really well, exceptionally well, for a kid thrown into a tough, competitive league, and it's admirable for him to believe in a different position he'd have excelled. Admirable, but not realistic.

In some sense, he might be a better player had he gone overseas earlier. His skills would be sharper, his fundamentals sounder, his tactical acumen more attuned, if he and two dozen other promising youngsters were berated and cajoled daily by coaches smoothing away rough spots. And he'd have spent most of his time with players of his own age, an aspect of growing up and maturing he has regretfully missed in the predominantly adult world of MLS.

But those young players wouldn't have been his peers, guys like Danny Szetela and others with whom he lived at Bradenton and was reunited at the U-20 World Cup. By opting for MLS, Adu chose to take the play and the pay, up front.

With a half-million per year and the prospect of regular playing time in MLS on the table, would Adu really have preferred to spend four years in Europe on youth and reserve teams, dueling every day against other aspirants for the No. 10 shirt, fending off hard cases eager to test the overhyped American, waiting for the 18th birthday -- an eternity away at age 14! -- that would make him eligible for first-team selection?

Adu is a rare talent, no question, and a move to Europe should enhance his innate abilities. Yet with a big club on the big stage, practical and pragmatic aspects of professional play must also be served. Much of what he still must learn stems from melding glamor with grit, and serving club as well as self.

 



No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
U.S. U-17s boys romp again, beat Turkey, 5-1     
After opening the Nike International Friendlies with a 7-1 win over Portugal, the U.S. U-17 boys ...
U-20 WWC: USA falls to Japan in third-place game     
Japan outshot the USA 29-3 while beating the Americans 1-0 in the third-place game at the ...
U.S. Abroad: Alvarado headed to Santos for Torneo Clausura    
Ventura Alvarado is back in the starting lineup at Mexican giant Club America, which tied Necaxa, ...
U.S. Abroad: Gooch faces three-month layoff    
Sunderland's Lynden Gooch, who made his English Premier League debut in August and U.S. national team ...
What They're Saying: Roberto Assis    
"It is a very difficult time. Later on, if there is a contact, we can talk. ...
Women's College Cup: Upstarts battle former champs    
The Division I women's season is down to its final weekend. Georgetown and West Virginia are ...
MLS Cup Countdown: Stars escape major injuries    
Both MLS Cup finalists had key players limp off in the second legs of the conference ...
MLS Preseason: Tournaments set at three sites    
The 2016 MLS season doesn't wrap up for another week, but teams are already finalizing plans ...
What They're Saying: Gareth Southgate    
"The days are gone from when I was younger where we did have beers after a ...
MLS Moves: Minnesota signs first two players    
MLS expansion team Minnesota United signed a pair of defenders -- Justin Davis and Kevin Venegas ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives