So, Is Freddy Adu Ever Going To Actually Do Anything?

June 26, 2007 – 1:59 am by Ryan Phillips

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.

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  1. 31 Responses to “So, Is Freddy Adu Ever Going To Actually Do Anything?”

  2. Some good points. As a longtime DC United fan, I can attest that he has the game to succeed as a pro. And then some. His attitude needs some work, though.

    Also, as far as why he’s not playing overseas for Man U (or someone else), he’s not allowed to play over there until he turns 18. (FIFA rules, not ours.) It’s long been expected he’ll bolt as soon as given the chance. (One reason DC United was willing to move him to RSL – they got something for him now that way.)

    By Anonymous on Jun 26, 2007

  3. adu is not that good. it’s that simple. he’s not on the us mnt because he is not that good. too small, and foot speed that doesn’t hold water at the international level.

    By geoff on Jun 26, 2007

  4. I just think it’s interesting you’re under the impression US Soccer somehow has control over what Freddy Adu does on the club level. When he’s 18, it will be his choice, not that of the USMNT, to go abroad.

    I for one hope that he does. While it’d be nice to grow the game in the States with a strong domestic league, that’s not the case right now. The league isn’t very good, and the fan bases aren’t there in all the cities (re: Kansas City).

    That said, it’s growing well in some spots and hopefully will continue to do so. Having a good domestic league gives us depth as a nation and grows some of our lesser players. However, our best players will have to go to Europe for the USMNT to be successful.

    By SCGuy on Jun 26, 2007

  5. “You telling me it wouldn’t have at least helped his development to be there?”

    Yes, that’s what I’m telling you. He wouldn’t have played. In hindsight, he couldn’t have done any worse. Bruce Arena didn’t have the benefit of hindsight.

    By Anonymous on Jun 26, 2007

  6. Uh. That’s if you believe he’s really as young as his stated age.

    By GEB4000 on Jun 26, 2007

  7. Ditto to the first post. From the time the deal was made it was my understanding that DC wanted to “unload” him before he turned 18 because it was unlikely that he would stay in MLS after that. Along those same lines, Real Salt Lake was willing to trade for some fanfare (read: “bums in seats”) and a decent player even though he might bolt once he became an adult.

    I must disagree with Geoff that a player’s stature has anything to do with his success. Nevermind that numerous world class players have been/are smaller (Maradona, Messi, Roberto Carlos, Romario, etc.), but there are plenty of regular MNT players who are the same size or smaller as well- Cherundolo, Hejduk, etc.

    By The Conductor on Jun 26, 2007

  8. I was under the impression that if it was OK’d, a player could go over to Europe and play for a major club’s youth team. Is that not the case? I’ll admit I’m ignorant to FIFA’s rules in that respect. From reading all the articles I did for this post it seemed like US Soccer advised him to stay close to home until he turned 18, but that he had the option to leave before then. If that’s wrong, my bad.

    As for his status with the National Team. I’m sorry, they could have at least gotten him in to some friendlies in the build up to the World Cup, I can understand him not making the roster but still, give the kid a shot somewhere.

    By Phillips on Jun 26, 2007

  9. Bruce Arena is a moron.

    That’s basically all that needs to be said.

    I’m sure that Bob Bradley will give him his chances soon.

    By Anonymous on Jun 26, 2007

  10. Freddy just scored a goal, assisted on another, and almost had a great one for the U-20s the other day. (

    Pele went to the World Cup at 17. Everyone else seems to be on a slower schedule. Let’s give him a year.

    By Mike Mullen on Jun 26, 2007

  11. Messi’s in another class…even at his age he would have been the best player in MLS bar none the past two years, so I don’t think Bradley owes Adu anything just because Messi has actually proven to be a world class player at a young age for a better footballing country.

    Freddy would probably be playing occasionally with the USMNT if he had a better reputation. But he’s still young and playing regularly in MLS, so it’s not like he’s washed up either. If he does go abroad he needs to be playing…I don’t think going to ManU as a Nike publicity stunt and then wallowing on the bench makes any sense. It’d be better to cut his teeth playing for a lesser Premiership side first.

    By frank on Jun 26, 2007

  12. Aside from the incredible hype-machine that MLS thrusted upon us, which would’ve had you believe that he was going to bring the game to the masses (much like the thought process surrounding Beckham’s transfer), the fact remains that Adu just hasn’t done much on the domestic stage, and really doesn’t warrant a call-up to the senior team right now.

    Now, admittedly, I don’t follow him from match to match, but I hear so little of his play during the run of games, which leads me to believe he’s not quite as all-world (although serviceable) as advertised. If/When he transfers to Europe, he’s not going to be an impact player, but probably a late-match sub (kind of like Dempsey with Fulham).

    The fact is: he was soundly adored when he was 12/13/14 and was dominating other 12/13/14/15/16 year-olds, but now he’s playing against men…not quite as apples to apples.

    The under-20 level is exactly where he needs to be right now, because he’s playing. Sitting the bench and getting garbage time minutes on the senior team isn’t as necessary as you think.

    By dam on Jun 26, 2007

  13. I think Messi is shorter, i’m 5’6″ and a half, and saw Messi on sunday and he is shorter than me.

    By Jose on Jun 26, 2007

  14. Give up on an 18-year old? He might not have the best opportunities, but it’s also part of the youth soccer promotion in the United States. There is no sort of system or means whereby US soccer stars are promoted or encouraged much. Again…he’s still 18. 18. Yeah, he might not be the best, my knowledge about him is restricted, and well, if he hasn’t been offered a chance to play in Europe, so maybe he isn’t that great, but compared to any of us blogging and commenting…he’s probably pretty good. And that is some jailbaitastic…uh, jail-bait.

    By t on Jun 26, 2007

  15. Dempsey was a mid-season acquisition; expect him to be starting next season.

    By Diesel on Jun 26, 2007

  16. Just imagine, for a moment, that Freddy might actually be older than what his passport states. Would that help you to understand what has happened? It would explain it to me. It would explain, why he played so convincingly against young players (because of his age advantage). And why this all goes away once he has to face older players.

    By J├╝rgen Kalwa on Jun 26, 2007

  17. 1. Like Jurgen said…everyone should admit to the possibility that Adu is older than he states. Remember that baseball kid? It would not be the first time that an someone has changed their documented age to get ahead…especially in the world of sports. (danny almonte)…and probably that guy going pro from Louisville football

    2. The reported interest in Adu at age 12 by the Italian clubs, etc…was all drummed up by his mom and there was no substance to it. This should lend more credence to the fact that “1.” is true, if it is any indication of mom adu’s scruples.

    3. Playing is more valuable than bench time. Let him be with the U-20’s where he gets time and if he is good enough to be a USMNT regular, it will happen in due course.

    By Anonymous on Jun 26, 2007

  18. ESPN loves to make stars out of young “sensations” before they accomplish anything. I hate when they do this shit, because it just makes them look stupid.

    Ex: Michelle Wie=LPGA’s Tiger Woods according to ESPN.

    Similarily (sp?), LeBron was going to save the NBA Finals… instead, they got the worst ratings ever (but what do you expect when ESPN is owned by ABC and has to whore us with BS)

    By Anonymous on Jun 26, 2007

  19. He could have signed with a european club at age 17. he worked out with United this past summer and has not been offered a slot on even their junior team. he is not amongst the transfer targets for SAF, Mourinho, Ancelotti, Capello, Benitez or anyone else. He is, as has been mentioned, overly hyped. He would at best be a bench player with a mid to lower team in the EPL, La Liga, Serie A, etc. The best players we have are not enough to hack it at premier clubs throughout the world. Donovan? Fell out of favor. Tim Howard? Fell out of favor for an aging keeper. Bocanegra? McBride? Beasley? All have tried, all have been sent packing. Howard was simply suffering a sophomore slump, the weight of a massive franchise on his shoulders between the sticks and has rebounded nicely at Everton. It’s good to know the US is in good hands at goalkeeper. The rest of our team, however, is weak and, on the world stage we flop. The World Cup was no fluke.

    By Anonymous on Jun 27, 2007

  20. As most have said, Adu just hasn’t progressed as a player enough to match the hype. It would have been remarkable if he could, he’s literally been a boy among men.

    His size is a concern, but not a dealbreaker. Comparing him to Messi or saying he had a shot with Man U shows how we lose perspective though. He had a “tryout”, probably set up by Nike, and garnered zero interest. Let him make an impact somewhere before we put him on one of the five best squads in the world or compare him to the world’s elite strikers. He’s still got potential, but I hope at this point he can even be as good as the last American savior(Landon). Unlike Donovan, he does show the desire to at least try and play in Europe. I think Altidore will be an impact player for the USMNT before Adu.

    By Anonymous on Jun 27, 2007

  21. Adu’s problem wasnt that he wasnt sent abroad, its that he wasnt kept in an age groupe where he would have learned to play the game.

    There are tons of talented players out there. Physically. But by being seated for a good part of the past 3-4 years his advancement has been stunted. Manchester might have bought him at 14 but they would never had allowd him to dress for the main team. There is a whole process that young players go through.
    THATS what he would have had in Europe: structure.

    Instead here they put him on the dashboard like a little troll and asked him to be the leagues good luck charm.
    He might have increased his physical skills in practice but there is nothing like game situations to improve how one sees the game.

    I compare his mismanagement to Michelle Wie who instead of playing in her age group or with adult dykes, has been trying to make the cut in men’s events.
    Learning how to win isnt going to come from always beeing an also ran.

    As for whether you can or can not play, there seems to be a lot of confused people.
    Here is a Wiki entry for canadian soccer player Owen Hargreaves who is now with Manchester:

    {Owen Hargreaves moved at the age of sixteen from Calgary Foothills to Bayern Munich on 1 July 1997. Hargreaves played in the Under-19 team for two and a half years before spending six months with the Amateur team. Whilst with the Under 19s the team reached the Final of the German Championship in 1998. They lost in the final to Borussia Dortmund, but only after a penalty shoot-out in Dortmund’s Rote-Erde Stadium.

    On 12 August 2000, Hargreaves played in his first Bundesliga match, making an appearance as a substitute for Carsten Jancker in the 83rd minute.)

    By Anonymous on Jun 27, 2007

  22. with a european passport he could play in europe at under 18. Witout one there are rules against it

    By Anonymous on Jun 27, 2007

  23. Don’t say McBride couldn’t hack it over there, he has been a rock with Fulham. There have been some US players who have had success overseas, just not the large majority.

    By Phillips on Jun 29, 2007

  24. Adu is way overrated. He will never live up to his expectations. He’s just not that good. When you talk about soccer phenoms, he can’t even come close to guys like Messi, Rooney, Owen…. All he was, was a marketing gimmick by MLS to revive MLS soccer. He sold tickets for DC United and for all the away venues he played at. Not only that, but he was able to sell jerseys. It’s all about marketing in the US when it comes to soccer.

    By Steve on Jun 29, 2007

  25. Donovan at 18 was infinitely more talented than Adu. Donovan should be one of the top 10-20 players in the world today. Unfortately Donovan hates soccer, and doesn’t put the time in it to get better. He just plays it because it pays for the beach house. He’s the Derrick Coleman of professional soccer.

    Adu likes soccer and wants to be the best however he developed a big head. He pissed away the last 4 years partying like Lindsay Logan because he believed the hype and thought he was NEXT. He inexplictably turned down a move to Premership side Reading a year ago. A club that has a great track record of developing young talent. Hopefully the trade to RSL has lit a fire in him that he better get his act together. Becasue he’s been playing great on the U-20 team. The U-20 World Cup is next month we’ll get a better idea if he’ll be any good after the tourney.

    By Rook on Jun 29, 2007

  26. PS: Soccer isn’t the NFL. And I don’t buy that crap that you have physically strong to make it in Europe. There are a bunch of players as little or litter than Adu that are excelling. Roskicky and 1/2 of his teammates at Arsenal, Arteta, Messi, Defoe. DeMarcus Beasley and his 26in waist has even has had some success in Europe.

    By Rook on Jun 29, 2007

  27. why does adu deserver a chance on the U.S national team let alone a chance from other European Squads. He hasn’t even proven himself with real salt lake and D.C united he wasn’t even a catalyst that helped them win the championship. He has done well in the Youth Championships but he wasn’t the best. In this U-20, he won’t do anything as well, i guarentee that. No hate for that guy, but other great players, such as (messi,ronaldinho,ronaldo,robinho,maradona,pele) have already proven themselves at such a young age eg, 15,16. I can name many other players from Europe too. Adu should have accepted that offer from Inter Milan. He would of learned more there, idiot.

    By Anonymous on Jun 30, 2007

  28. It seems he is flying, finally, cross the Atlantic to join the biggest club in the World “SL Benfica” of Portugal

    By Anonymous on Jul 26, 2007

  29. “In this U-20, he won’t do anything as well, i guarentee that.”

    By dr on Aug 6, 2007

  30. “In this U-20, he won’t do anything as well, i guarentee that.”

    By Anonymous on Aug 6, 2007

  31. The reason Freddy Adu’s skills have “stunted” is simple, he isn’t 18! African nations have been known to lie about birth dates so they win international tournaments. Freddy is no different. I bet he’s closer to 23 or 25. Look at the mexicans Carlos Vela and Giovanni dos Santos, they look 18. Adu, not really. He stuck out when he was playing against 14 year olds and 16 year olds only because he is I believe considerably older. If Adu was as good as people say he would be playing for a big club in Eruope. He’s playing for a club in Portugal now, but certainly not on of the power houses. Messi 20 yrs old Barcelona, Giovanni 18 years old Barcelona, Vela 18 yrs old Osasuna(on loan from Arsenal). Adu isn’t that good and he’s old and he’s not going to get any better.

    By Anonymous on Mar 10, 2008

  32. Freddy Adu will be the greatest USA soccer player of all time! As soon as USA gets a coach that realizes that. Freddy hasnt had the chance to shine cause hes always on the bench or not even on the squad! It irks me cause everytime freddy plays he is the best player on the field he creates lots of scoring chances but the forwards suck so bad that they cant make the goal! USA soccer has no chance of shocking the world without Freddy Adu…

    By Joseelrey24 on Sep 6, 2008

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