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Freddy ready but competition stiff at upstart Monaco
by Paul Kennedy, August 22nd, 2008 7AM



[AMERICANS ABROAD/VIDEO] Just days after arriving at Monaco from the Summer Olympics in China, where he represented the USA in men's soccer, Freddy Adu is ready to make his debut for his new French club, Monaco, but he faces stiff competition for playing time from a crop of young players who have exceeded expectations in the opening weeks of the 2008-09 season.


(Click here for video of Adu's arrival at Monaco.)

Adu, who joined ASM on loan from Benfica, could see action as soon as Saturday for Monaco against Caen in Day 3 of the Ligue 1. He has gotten the green light from the Monaco medical staff to play.

Monaco has been an early-season surprise, opening with a 1-0 win over Paris St. Germain and 1-1 tie at Nantes for four points, good enough for a tie for second place behind promoted Grenoble, the shock leader with two wins in two games.

While Jerome de Bontin, Monaco's American president, was criticized for the club's lack of activity on the summer transfer market, Monaco is unbeaten thanks in part to strong performances from its young players. Five starters at Nantes were 21 or younger -- goalie Stefane Ruffier (20), defenders Vincent Muratori (21) and Cedric Mongongu (19) and forwards Frederic Nimani (20) and Juan Pablo Pino (21). Nimani and Pino, a Colombian, returned after loan spells at other clubs.

It has also gotten solid play from Ivorian Jean-Jacques Gosso, who earned a spot on the Monaco roster after a summer tryout. He previously played in Morocco and Israel. (Adu and Gosso were on opposite sides when the USA beat Ivory Coast at the 2003 World Youth Championship.)

Forwards Serge Gakpe (21), Jeremy Menez (21) and Djamel Bakar (19), Monaco's three most coveted youngsters, have seen limited or no playing time because of injuries.

In Monaco's 100% Freddy feature, Adu says he feels great at Monaco.

"The beaches are gorgeous," he says. "The cliffs that hang over the city are spectacular. I am eager to get to know the area but even more so to start contributing to the club."


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