As you may have noticed, I’ve been absent from the blog for the last week or so but Weller has kept you updated. Now the roles are reversed as Weller is headed out to Colorado for a ski trip and I now have a consistent internet connection. So since we’re in the middle of Bowl Season NFL Playoff races, some Hot Stove baseball action and plenty of of sporting news…I’m going to talk about soccer. Figures, right?
Anyway, this post stems from some Christmas break Fifa 10 at a friend’s house back home. We were attempting to win the World Cup with the USA when Jozy Altidore got injured. As we scrolled through the subs to find a replacement we ran across Freddy Adu. We got to wondering what happened to the future savior of American soccer. So I looked him up.
Adu was supposed to become the greatest player in the by the time we was 18 and was supposed to the lead the US to a World Cup title this Summer. Even non-soccer fans knew his name by the time he was 14. He became the youngest person in American sports history to sign a pro contract in 2004 when he has the first overall pick in the draft by the DC United. When he made his debut in Major League Soccer he became the youngest person to play pro sports in America, besting Joe Nuxhall’s previous record.
After three unspectacular years in Washington DC, Adu was traded to Real Salt Lake, where he made 11 appearances and scored two goals. Word also trickled out that world giants Manchester United had previously shown interest in the star forward and that he had gone on a two-week training session but was unable to obtain a work permit, so he could not play in a game.
In the middle of the 2007 MLS season, Adu opted out of his contract and negotiated a deal with Portuguese giant, Benfica. About a year later, Adu was loaned to French club, AS Monaco for the year before being sent back to Benfica.
Then, just this past August, Adu was again loaned out. This time it was to Belenenses of the Portuguese League. Adu made one start and was injured before halftime. On December 29th, Belenenses released Adu from his loan.
So what does this all mean? Well, Adu is still only 2o so it’s not like he’s washed up yet. Still, plenty of players have made a massive impact on the international and domestic scene before their 20th birthdays. Landon Donovan scored his first goal for the US National Team against Mexico when he was 19 and was a star of the 2002 World Cup when he was 21. Wayne Rooney scored his first goal for Everton at the age of 16 against Arsenal and has never looked back. In fact, his fellow countryman Altidore may be his best comparison. Altidore is a fixture in the US lineup and he is a regular starter for Hull City in England. He’s the same age as Adu.
So what does Adu need to do? I think he needs to come back to the MLS. While Major League Soccer isn’t exactly the highest quality of soccer, it would give Adu the chance to play every day which he hasn’t been doing. Since 2006, he has only appeared in 35 first team matches and has only scored four goals. I don’t care how much skill or potential a player has, practice only gets you so far. He needs the game tempo. MLS would provide that.
He would also be under less pressure over here in the states. Benfica is a world-wide club with tons of fans and tons of attention. I guarantee you that the Houston Dynamo don’t get that much publicity.
I’m no longer counting on Adu to be the best player the USA has ever seen. Could he become the best player? Maybe. I hope so. At this point I think it’s safe to say that Altidore is way ahead of Adu. Maybe once he starts to get regular playing time at a club somewhere and proves what he is capable of then he will get more looks from the National Team. Barring some sort of uprising in Adu’s play, I think it’s safe to say that he won’t be on the World Cup team this Summer and I’m just not sure what is in store for him next.
What do you all think?