Never before has there been a player like Freddy Adu. It is okay to admit it now that we were wrong, we were all very wrong. Now unless he has the David Prso factor; whereby he worked as a car mechanic until he was 25 before making it in the professional game, Adu now has little chance of fulfilling his outrageous potential.
Last week when on the Football Weekly podcast, Miles Jacobson; Creator and Director of the well-known franchise Football Manager, stated that he was most wrong about two players. One was To Madiera who was a Portuguese Researcher that slipped himself into the database. With that, 2001/02 Championship Managers alike rejoiced with Madiera who; after a couple of years, became a world-beater. The second was Freddy Adu.
Now, it is easy to look back and say “I was wrong about Freddy Adu”. This applied to a lot of people, given the astronomical hype surrounding a fourteen year old kid who had earned a multi-million dollar Nike contract before he had signed anything binding in terms of his professional playing career. With this in mind, did we react too hastily to judge him on his failures?
The hype was possibly just what was needed at the time in the States. To invoke appeal of soccer across the pond, it needed someone to pull in crowds. Not just a well-known name like 70’s NASL, with the likes of Beckenbauer, Carlos Alberto and Pele, but someone to call their own – an archetype. Adu fitted the bill perfectly and to say it did not work thus far is unfortunate but accurate. Moving on from DC United after blitzing through his rookie years, he soon transgressed and he was traded to Real Salt Lake.
After 11 games’ worth of “the Odegaard treatment”, training with Man United and being watched by scouts from the highest calibre sides in every footballing nation worth mentioning, the youngster then booked his international flight and moved to Benfica. Adu proceeded to flit around European like a student on a budgeted gap-year and would be seen at places like Aris (Greece), Monaco (France), Belenenses (Portugal) and lastly, Caykur Rizespor (second-tier Turkey). After his sabbatical, he returned to American soil in order to turn out for Philadelphia Union. It did not end well again and he fled the coop going to pastures new, this time in Brazil, Serbia and Finland before again hitting home ground for a third time at Tampa Bay Rowdies.
Now the tricky part of writing this is defining the difference between who Tampa are and who they belong to. Tampa are an NASL (North American Soccer League) team, which is different from MLS (Major League Soccer). MLS is the richer, brasher younger brother for which NASL set out the entire path for, but MLS continues to bathe in the limelight reserved for number one soccer league in America. NASL began its operations in 2009, having in turn succeeded a different organisation in a manner similar to the MLS. Now however, we have a two-tier footballing hierarchy in which NASL is far from happy about being placed in second. It is odd to think in a country that has been privy to soccer for decades, two competing leagues cannot be accommodated without one trying to outdo the other. It is very odd that a nation has two divisions rivalling each other for top status; a kind of Rugby Union vs its League counterparts if you will. Nevertheless, this competition will probably make the game stronger in all fairness.
This especially applies to Adu, with the journeyman now settling in well at Tampa. It seems that the reason behind this is Thomas Rongen; his manager and mentor that managed him at the Under-20’s World Cup in 2007. At this tournament, the potential superstar captained the side and scored a hat trick against Poland. I know what you’re thinking – if Tampa win anything at the end of the season with Adu scoring the winner, the movie is going to sell millions, almost as if Adu was in fact the Karate Kid all along! Since Adu’s magnanimous beginnings in tge MLS and , they have had Jozy Altidore; who scarily had a similar start to his career before finding his feet at AZ Alkamaar and then at a couple of clubs in England’s top tier; namely Hull City and Sunderland. USA have also had DeMarcus Beasley who again proved most useful at PSV. You see, Adu seemed to have missed the memo about going to Holland.
In a few final words, Freddy Adu and his various teams over the years are possibly deflated more than anybody else in relation to his career trajectory, but after all that has been said, the man is still only 26! If you look closely on the ‘hints and tips’ section while progressing through a Football Manager game, it states “footballers are normally at the peak of their game from 28-30”, a stage of his life which Adu is about to embark upon. I am sure h is not going to sign for Barcelona or Juventus anytime soon, but steady performances in his home country for a manager he holds in high regard could just be what the poor soul needs.
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