I was watching highlights of US Soccer’s win over Mexico in the Gold Cup Sunday, and a question began to circulate in my head and I couldn’t think of an answer. So I ask you: Why isn’t Freddy Adu playing?
It’s been nearly six years since Adu, as a 12-year-old, was courted by the likes of Inter Milan, now he’s on Real Salt Lake and has only made one appearance for the US National Team. The kid became the youngest athlete in U.S. professional sports since 1887, when he signed a contract with D.C. United of Major League Soccer in 2003, at the age of 14. Since 2004, he’s scored a total of 12 goals and tallied 18 assists in 94 MLS games. Despite being invited to participate on the senior squad by Bruce Arena in January 2006, Adu did not make the final World Cup roster. He did however become the youngest player to compete for the US Men’s National Team when he entered a friendly against Canada in the 81st minute on Jan. 22, 2006.
So he’s done virtually nothing on the highest level and he just turned 18. I thought he was going to turn soccer on its head in America. He was a difference maker who was going to change everything and become the world’s best player. So why isn’t he even making a US squad that was a joke at last summer’s World Cup? You telling me it wouldn’t have at least helped his development to be there?
Other than dating the jailbait-tastic singer JoJo for about a year, and dominating several world youth tournaments, he hasn’t really had the chance to do anything noteworthy. He impressed at the 2003 FIFA U-17 World Championship in Finland and the 2003 FIFA Youth Championship in the United Arab Emirates. While he had a rough time at the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship in the Netherlands, he was obviously one of the best players on the field. Isn’t it about time for him to get a shot at the next level or leave the MLS and go to Europe?
Now, I understand that he didn’t play in the Gold Cup this past week because he was helping the US U-20 Team to beat Chile 2-1 in a tune-up before they play in the U-20 World Cup in Canada, starting Saturday. He was brilliant in that game, scoring once, setting up the winning goal and nearly scoring a third. I hope he dominates the U-20 World Cup, I really do, but would it hurt to get him in to a few friendlies?
And to those who say he’s just too young, that’s crap. Argentinian sensation, Lionel Messi, turned 20 on Sunday, and he has taken the Spanish Primera Division by storm for FC Barcelona, scoring 21 goals in 50 appearances for the team. He’s already made 14 appearances and scored three goals for Argentina’s National Teams since 2005. He also made three appearances at the 2006 World Cup, scoring one goal and assisting on another. Oh, and he plays the same positions (striker, attacking midfielder) and is the same height (5’7) as Adu.
I don’t blame Freddy for his lack of appearances and stunted development. I blame the people in charge at US Soccer. The kid has been wooed by Manchester United, yet instead of pushing him to go overseas and play against the best competition in the world, we are content to see him stay with Salt Lake. Come on people, let’s develop the best talent we have so we can actually use him. I just don’t get it. I like the make-up of the US National Team right now. We’re a tough team and we’ve got a few finishers with loads of talent in Donovan, Beasley and Clint Dempsey. But we could always use another option. Even if it’s just as a sub, Adu needs to be there. We have nothing to use by having him up with the team, but by not using him we risk wasting his talent.