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Freddy Adu

In Defense of Freddy Adu and Other USMNT Thoughts

My name is Robert Hay, and I am a fan of Freddy Adu.

That statement has for years been quite controversial, as the young American has been the center of much discussion of the failures of American soccer.  We hype them too young!  We don’t develop our own talent!  Don’t let players like Agudelo and Bunbury get Adu’ed!  No one who plays in the Turkish (or Danish or Swedish) second division deserves media coverage!  If he truly cared about his career then he’d play in the states and turn down the easy paycheck!

While the spotlight had turned away from Adu for a while (save for a wonder goal here or there) it has now turned right back on him with today’s surprising announcement that Bob Bradley named him to the U.S. Gold Cup roster.  Even on my list of people I’d bring (where I suggested starting Teal Bunbury and having Bill Hamid handy) I never even considered adding Adu, figuring he needed to climb back in good graces to consider being picked.  I guess he was more in favor than I had thought.  Adu made the cut for the team over Teal Bunbury (who is the next big thing along with Agudelo), Edson Buddle (who’s actually performed in MLS and overseas) and Herculez Gomez (who has played well in the Mexican league).  So why Adu over these gentlemen?

  • Adu is still very young.  It may be hard to believe but the midfielder is just old enough to order a drink in the United States.  Regardless his country of origin, he is still a prospect that can be molded into a very good player.
  • You can’t teach athleticism.  Even though players like Buddle are more accomplished, Adu is more physically gifted.  If you (and by you I mean Bob Bradley) teach him to use that athleticism, then he becomes the complete player he was always supposed to become.  But people have been saying that for years.
  • He has played his cards correctly.  Not getting playing time in Greece and numerous other countries, plus not receiving attention from Bradley, Adu could have called a friendly reporter and ripped USSF, American soccer, and Bradley.  But he didn’t.  He took Bradley’s advice to simply get playing time, moved off the radar in the Turkish second division, and played well.  He’s scored 4 goals in 11 appearances (including this one), and Bradley watched many of his matches over the Internet.  Adu played his cards right, and is getting rewarded with another chance.
  • Adu’s career in international play is more than impressive.  As a reminder, he has played in three FIFA U-20 World Cups and captained one of the teams.  He has almost seventy international caps at multiple levels and has led national teams at the highest level.  You don’t just throw away that kind of experience.

Ultimately, Freddy Adu may not play that much and may just be anther body.  But the success of this pick and a few others will be judged by the results in the Gold Cup; failure will cast a poor light on Bradley and Adu.  The two are inexplicably linked.

A few other thoughts:

  • I am glad that Chris Wondolowski was included in the squad.  This team needs a forward who can score, no matter what, and that’s what Wondo does.  He deserves another national team chance.
  • There is a lack of German and Swedish influence on this team.  Despite speculation that David Yelldell would be the third keeper, Bradley went with Nick Rimando.  And Timothy Chandler was a major exclusion from this team, an absolute surprise considering the hype he was getting after his last call-up.  A guy I would have started, half-Scandinavian Mixx Diskerud, was also not invited despite his season being over. Alejandro Bedoya was another surprise exclusion despite his club season being over.
  • Robbie Rogers has at times played well for Columbus and almost carried them offensively.  But he would not have even been the best pick from MLS – I would have taken Kyle Beckerman or Brek Shea to provide more defensive cover.
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  1. gnot feklar

    May 25, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    Torres midfield plays in mexican leauge what happend to him?

    • Abram

      May 26, 2011 at 3:47 pm

      I’m really upset about Torres and Gomez not being included. Both seem to be playing well, but neither seems to be really on Bradley’s radar. I was listening to someone who was mentioning that Torres, Diskerud, and Adu (supposedly the more creative players) have trouble fitting into Bradley’s system because he is overly tactical. I don’t know if that is true, but it is an interesting thought.

      • gnotfeklar

        May 26, 2011 at 6:16 pm

        thanx enjoy your comments

  2. Oliver

    May 25, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    It’s a brilliant move on Bradley part. Adu, Altidore, M. Bradley, and Rogers have went through the US MNT system together. They’ve developed years of chemistry. Back in 2007, they almost won the U-20’s World Cup. BRILLIANT!!! Well done, Bob!!!

  3. CrazyMike366

    May 24, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    A couple of corrections here:

    The Allsvenkan and most Scandinavian leagues run a schedule parallel to MLS, not Europe, because of the winters. Bedoya and Mixx would be missing a fair number of league games. Bedoya, being in his last contract year, probably decided that would be a bad career choice. Bradley made a statement that supported it was a ‘club v country’ problem for the Scandinavia-based players.

    Chandler was called up but was convinced not to participate by Nuremburg. It was his first full season of top level play and he has claimed he is both physically and mentally exhausted and would be happy to take the summer off to come back fit and ready for the winter camp. This has the knock on benefit of simultaneously showing his club team that he is committed to them and wants to keep his starting spot.

    My own reactions:

    I am glad Adu got the call up. I’ve been watching him this season and want to see him do well…he’s the same age as me so I’ve always felt linked to him moreso than some of the older players on the national team. I watched his games this season on crap internet feeds and I was impressed. Anyone who is upset that Bedoya didn’t come home for the cup should have been equally upset had Adu not been called in – they’re both at 4 goals and as many assists in about the same number of games.

    The other ones that are drawing reactions that leave me seething a bit are Wondo over Bunbury and Rogers over any other US winger in MLS. Look at the stats – they’re doing very very well. Wondo has the most goals from open play of any US striker in MLS (Bunbury is hot and cold) and Rogers is listed in the Castrol/EA/Opta index as about 12% more effective on the ball than Landon Donovan, and no one is screaming about him being included.

    • Earl Reed

      May 25, 2011 at 7:21 am

      Yep, you’re right, thus the reason that they’ve left out Donovan, DeMerit, Agudelo, and Wondolowski.

      Oh wait.

      Let me interpret: “Bedoya and Diskerud are young players who are not up to quality at the moment. But I can’t say that, so I’ll use the spring-fall Scandinavian schedule as a convenient excuse.”

  4. Dave C

    May 24, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    Not sure I’d agree with Adu being “physically athletic”. Isn’t he about 4 feet tall???

    • Abram

      May 24, 2011 at 1:40 pm

      Athletic does not necesarilly mean tall. Messi (and I am definitely not comparing Adu to Messi) is only 5’7″ or so. I sort of believe that Adu is a placeholder until Stuart Holden in back to health.

      • Dave C

        May 25, 2011 at 12:04 pm

        Abram, I actually agree with you. I just assumed that Robert Hay was using the phrase the way many Americans often do (which usually means tall, strong and fast, like an NFL receiver), which obviously doesn’t apply to Adu.

        This common American misuse of the term “athletic” is why I get particularly mad when Americans say things like “the US would be awesome at soccer if only our best athletes played soccer instead of NFL/Basketball etc”. It’s like they neglect the fact that there are different types of athleticism, each of which is more suited to some sports than others.

  5. Tuttle

    May 24, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    Have we just given up on developing a quality left back?

    Lichaj should be able to cover the right in Chandler’s absence, but no Zach Loyd or Brek Shae means Bocanegra or Bornstein are probably going to play on the left and they don’t really have the pace to play the position in a modern formation. Spector is an option and has the pace, but he lacks the marking ability needed (which is why his club plays him in midfield).

    • Charles

      May 24, 2011 at 1:25 pm

      Who did you have in mind ?

      • Tuttle

        May 25, 2011 at 9:55 am

        Zach Loyd or Brek Shae. Perhaps Kevin Alston, although he prefers the right, or Ike Opera who the athleticism necessary for the role even though he usually plays in the middle.

        • Tuttle

          May 25, 2011 at 10:03 am

          “… who *has* the athleticism …”

          Oi. Need more coffee before posting.

        • Charles

          May 26, 2011 at 3:09 pm

          Well I can testify first hand the Brek Shae looks good in left mid. Many think the same about Lloyd too.

        • Abram

          May 26, 2011 at 3:45 pm

          I watch Alston week in and week out with the Revs, and I just don’t see him being able to succesfully transition to the USMNT. Maybe I’m missing something. I was a bit disappointed that Shea wasn’t on the squad. I’m curious about his future as a left back.

  6. Alex

    May 24, 2011 at 11:46 am

    Timmy Chandler and Bunbury are two players i would love to see in the roster. especially chandler. i dont even see him on the player pool on USSF website. but i have a feeling he’ll get a call up come qualification rounds. two players im really excitied about or three actually are jermaine jones, wondo and agudelo. jones and wondo are two tough players who i fell will give strength to the attack and agudelo i feel can be very useful as a sub for either player, he’s got alot of speed to resupply the squad but i dont think he should be a starter, not yet at least. but im excited to see USA vs Panama in Tampa!!!!

    anyways i think just as it did with Australia, Japan and the US, i think canada needs their own professional league or at least a more professional version of their first division in order to bring up their national squad. im eager to see them play this year see how much the canucks has improved.

    • Abram

      May 24, 2011 at 1:38 pm

      Apparently Nurnberg asked Bradley to leave Chandler off because of injury. Same fo SKC and Bunbury. I’ll be interested to see how Wondo does at this level.

  7. SSReporters

    May 24, 2011 at 11:29 am

    No Robbie Findley?

    BOB HAS SEEN THE LIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Alan

      May 25, 2011 at 3:22 am

      Yeah, I never understood that one neither.

      • Abram

        May 25, 2011 at 1:39 pm

        …but he’s really, really fast. What’s not to get?

  8. Robert

    May 24, 2011 at 10:41 am

    I believe Mexico is the favorite to win the Gold Cup. I just looked at their roster for Copa America and Mexico is going to be a dominate force for many years, pending everyone stays healthy.

    As for USA I’m not seeing to many bright spots from our younger crop. It’s sad to see our prospects bounce around from club to club and struggle for minutes.

  9. Charles

    May 24, 2011 at 9:34 am

    I have no idea how good Adu is, very hard to follow leagues like the 2nd division in Turkey.

    I am happy he makes it because on many other sites he has become the butt of jokes by other guys that can’t follow the 2nd division in Turkey, but want to act like they know more than they do.

    IF I didn’t know better I would say there were a LOT of players that could have made this team, but were not chosen. That can’t be of course because US soccer stinks….

  10. Earl Reed

    May 24, 2011 at 9:28 am

    Honestly, I don’t see the Norwegian league games. I don’t know if Diskerud is that impressive or not. He had a pass in a friendly that found Agudelo for a goal. In 8 games for Stabaek this year he has zero goals. And he’s playing primarily as a right midfielder.

    At this point, Diskerud was kind of a trendy, youth favorite. If he’s not getting time in a central attacking midfield role at Stabaek, then he doesn’t have a niche to fill. We have Donovan, Dempsey, Kljestan, and Rogers who are all more accomplished to play the wings. And Donovan can play CAM if Bradley wants to play a single striker formation.

  11. Abram

    May 24, 2011 at 5:57 am

    So then I guess Canadians will be gloating over his exclusion. Blackburn’s Junior Hoilett, also a Canadian, has recently said he is interested in playing for the US as well. I wish Canadians would stay playing for Canada, because it would make it so there were three really strong CONCACAF teams.

    • Lars

      May 24, 2011 at 12:14 pm

      Hoilett actually has no claim to playing for the US. He’s not eligible at all. He just wants to play for a big country, which is why he’s still holding out for his UK residency.

      • Abram

        May 24, 2011 at 1:32 pm

        I didn’t think he could play for the US. Canada really should have a team that is on par with the US. I am not Canadian, but would love to see their team be strong. Having Mexico, the US, and Canada as strong teams would be good for all three and great for the CONCACAF region. Do you know if Canada even tried to call Hoilett for the Gold Cup? They really should have if they didn’t.

        • Lars

          May 30, 2011 at 2:46 pm

          They’ve been in contact with Hoilett. He keeps declining the call up. He wants to play for England.

  12. Lars

    May 24, 2011 at 12:43 am

    Glad to see Bunbury was appropriately awarded for his choice to betray the first international country he chose to represent. He was so proud to be Canadian he jumped to the US at the first chance so he could get those sponsorship dollars. Seems his choice has really worked out for him.

    Good job Teal. At least your father wasn’t a sell-out.

  13. Alan

    May 23, 2011 at 10:24 pm

    Oh, and a side note. I am going to the US/Canada game at Ford Field in Detroit. I am beyond excited for this!

    • Charles

      May 24, 2011 at 9:30 am

      That is awesome. US should score some goals for that one.

  14. Alan

    May 23, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    I am glad Freddy Adu was given a chance and even more happy that Wondolowski was given a second chance. I can’t wait to see what formation he plans to use.

  15. Abram

    May 23, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    Despite no Bunbury, Chandler, or Diskerud this is a pretty forward thinking squad (though I would have left off Kljestan). I’m also not too sure with calling up Rimando as a third choice keeper in the heart of the MLS season. Still no one is ever going to be perfectly happy with a team, but overall I give Bradley’s choices a solid “B+”. Chandler, Bunbury, and Diskerud will be seen in the future. BTW, do you think Canadian’s are gloating over Bunbury’s exclusion? Just wondering.

    • Alan

      May 23, 2011 at 10:12 pm

      Bunbury will get included in the future I am sure. He is a part of the future. Rimando has been awesome as a keeper and deserves a chance. I think anyone getting taken out during the season is too bad, and MLS should definitely work around the international calendar to allow talents like him to get called without hurting his squad.

      • Abram

        May 23, 2011 at 10:15 pm

        I agree, MLS really does need to respect the international dates, but it is hard with the summer schedule. Losing Rimando is a HUGE deal in RSL. I honestly think he is a bigger loss to RSL than Donovan is to LA and it is a shame that RSL loses their first-choice keeper so that he can be the third-choice keeper on the NT, when David Yelldell’s season is over.

        • Alan

          May 23, 2011 at 10:18 pm

          Definitely a good point. Maybe during the off-season for MLS would be a better time to give him a chance. I’m a bit torn.

          • Adam G

            May 27, 2011 at 1:41 pm

            Rimando won’t actually be going to the gold cup unless one of the US keepers get’s injured.

            This is on
            “And finally, Nick Rimando will serve as the third goalkeeper for the US squad. He will not be required to miss action with RSL, however, barring an injury or unforeseen event that would keep Tim Howard or Marcus Hahnemann from filling their role in the US goal.”

  16. SJQuakesFan

    May 23, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    Dempsey and Donovan should serve as servicemen to Wondo as the targetman. If the formula works than they will score no doubt. Don’t know Altidore is in shape to do the same.

    • Matt

      May 24, 2011 at 12:28 pm

      This is a 2 week tournament that the we have a good shot at winning. It hopefully will be a US v Mexico final. This is another step in the developement of the over all program and I am certainly pleased with the direction it is going in. Donovan and Dempsy are the glue (along with Howard, and I am omitting Gooch on purpose) of the team. The roster can’t be loaded with young players with little national team experience. For the most part this team has had a lot of training time together. Would I like to see Chandler or some of the other up and commers? Sure. But there time will come and they will start getting a lot more caps in friendlies in the near future. US Soccer has come so far in the past 2 years. Hopefully it will evolve at the same pace and Donovan and Dempsy will be able to really taste some success before their careers are over with the National Team. I have tickets to the Canada game and can’t wait to see the evolution. Can’t wait for the Spain game too.

  17. Will Rimer

    May 23, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    I’m very upset and surprised Timmy Chandler wasn’t included. I think this would’ve been a great time to see what he could do. Maybe a little too early, but we need to learn what role he could play in Brazil. And our D isn’t getting any younger. I guess young defenders were included, but still I wanted Chandler on the roster.

    • Alan

      May 23, 2011 at 10:07 pm

      Chandler would have been a great choice. Too bad he wasn’t called.

      • Abram

        May 24, 2011 at 5:54 am

        I’m trying to find the article, but apparently Bradley did call Chandler. Apparently Neurenberg did not want him to play because he was injured and they are playing during the Gold Cup (or something like that). So I give Bradley a pass on that one since he had no control over Chandler’s ability to play for the NT. I do however question why neither Gomez nor Bunbury was brought in though.

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