He was supposed to be the next big thing in professional soccer. Even better, he belonged to the U.S.
The thing about it is, Freddy Adu was a barely teenager when he was deemed a phenom, the savior to soccer in this country. Adu was the toast of the late-night television circuit, played with D.C. United and even later signed a $2 million deal to play overseas before he was old enough to vote.
But just as quickly as he anointed, Adu disappeared into second-tier soccer oblivion. But Monday he resurfaced in a major when he was named to the 23-man U.S. roster for next month’s Gold Cup, making it the first time in two years he had been invited to play with the national team by U.S. coach Bob Bradley.
Adu, who turns 22 in June, had been playing with Rizepor, a second-division team in Turkey, since January. But the kid who once captured the imaginations of soccer fans everywhere could be on his way back if it goes well this time.
"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 Monday to ESPN.com. "We never thought [his] story was over. Now we will find out where it fits for right now."
The problem for years seemed that Adu simply didn’t fit in. He was too young. He was given way too much too fast. At 14 he made his professional soccer debut and the time he was 17 he signed a $2 million deal to leave MLS and go play for Benefica. That’s where the spiraling began that led him to second-division soccer status.
But Adu still has flashes of being soccer’s next great player. He performed well in appearances with the U.S. team in 2008 and 2009 before dropping off the top division scene.
"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."
(Photo: Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images)