The former phenom was selected to the U.S. roster for next
month’s Gold Cup on Monday, the first time in almost two years he’s
been included in coach Bob Bradley’s plans. Adu has been playing at
Rizespor in Turkey’s second division since January.
”Freddy is a player that, in the past, has shown us soccer
qualities that we think help our team,” Bradley said. ”It hasn’t
always added up enough yet with the full national team, but it
seems like a good opportunity to get him back in with us when we
have a good month together, and challenge him and hope that he has
continued to grow and mature.”
The Americans will begin reporting Thursday to training camp in
Cary, N.C. They have a June 4 exhibition in Foxborough, Mass.,
against World Cup champion Spain, followed by the CONCACAF Gold
Cup, the championship of North and Central America and the
The Americans open group play June 7 in Detroit against Canada.
They play Panama on June 11 in Tampa, Fla., and close the first
round against Guadeloupe on June 14 at Kansas City, Kan.
”Thanx everyone for the congrats. Happy to be part of the US
team again,” Adu said on Twitter.
Adu, who turns 22 on June 2, burst onto the U.S. soccer scene at
the 2003 FIFA Under-17 World Championships. He scored three goals
against South Korea and a game-winner against Sierra Leone in the
tournament, where Arsenal star Cesc Fabregas was the MVP.
The teenager created an even bigger splash that November when he
signed with D.C. United – a deal that landed him on David
Letterman’s ”Late Show.” His MLS debut in April 2004 was given
showcase treatment on ABC, and he played the final 29 minutes,
becoming the youngest player on a major U.S. pro team in more than
He earned his first invitation to a national team training camp
in January 2006. Later that month, the 16-year-old became the
youngest player in U.S. national team history when he came on as a
substitute against Canada.
”At different times, he has shown some soccer abilities that
are special,” Bradley said. ”He hasn’t always been able to make
them count in different situations, at different levels.”
In fact, Adu fell so far, so fast that he’s become a cautionary
tale for youngsters with exceptional talents.
Weeks after Adu scored three goals against Poland at the 2007
Under-20 World Cup, Benfica paid $2 million for his transfer from
MLS. But the coach who signed him was fired after two games, and
Adu made only two starts that season. He was loaned the following
July to Monaco, where he played 110 minutes – all season.
Adu scored his first goal for the U.S. team on Nov. 19, 2008, in
a 2-0 win over Guatemala in a World Cup qualifier, and added his
second the following July against Grenada in the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
It was his last appearance with the U.S. team, and he was left out
of last year’s World Cup.
He bounced between clubs in Portugal and Greece, and had a
handful of tryouts with other European teams before being loaned to
Rizespor in late January.
Though Bradley has been keeping tabs on Adu – he watched
Rizespor’s playoff game Monday on the computer – he acknowledged
Adu’s selection was probably the biggest surprise on the 23-man
roster. Because of the importance of the Gold Cup, Bradley stuck
with most of the veterans that were part of last year’s World Cup
team while adding up-and-comers Juan Agudelo, Tim Ream and Eric
”Freddy has fallen out of the scene a little bit. Typically,
playing in the second division in Turkey doesn’t bring you back
into the scene,” Bradley said. ”We never thought (his) story was
over. Now we will find out where it fits for right now.”
Adu is getting regular playing time and has scored three goals
for Rizespor. But Bradley said a combination of factors convinced
him to take another look at Adu, including what he hopes is a
maturity that might have been missing in past years.
”We respect the fact that he made this move to go to a smaller
club because he had to show people he was willing to do whatever to
keep going,” Bradley said. ”We’re looking forward to seeing how
he’s handling things, a maturity, a way that tells us his
experiences along the way have been measured and he understands
that all of it needs to come together to move along, whether it’s
with a club team or the national team.”
Goalkeepers: Tim Howard (Everton, England), Marcus Hahnemann
(Wolverhampton, England), Nick Rimando (Salt Lake)
Defenders: Carlos Bocanegra (Saint-Etienne, France), Jonathan
Bornstein (Tigres, Mexico), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover, Germany),
Clarence Goodson (Brondby, Denmark), Eric Lichaj (Leeds, England),
Oguchi Onyewu (Twente, Netherlands), Tim Ream (New York), Jonathan
Spector (West Ham United, England)
Midfielders: Freddy Adu (Rizespor, Turkey), Michael Bradley
(Aston Villa, England), Clint Dempsey (Fulham, England), Landon
Donovan (Los Angeles), Maurice Edu (Rangers, Scotland), Benny
Feilhaber (New England), Jermaine Jones (Blackburn, England), Sacha
Kljestan (Anderlecht, Belgium), Robbie Rogers (Columbus)
Forwards: Juan Agudelo (New York), Jozy Altidore (Bursaspor,
Turkey), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose)
Follow Nancy Armour at http://twitter.com/nrarmour