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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