The United States National Team had moved on from Adu, or so it appeared. But after a succession of poor results in friendlies culminating in a 4-0 embarrassment in Foxborough, Massachusetts against Spain, Bradley — with his job on the line — recalled Adu for the CONCACAF Gold Cup, a tournament many felt the US had to win to save the coach’s job.
Bradley selected him and Adu made the difference, injecting life into a morbid US squad and helping lead the team to the final after a great semifinal performance against Panama.
In the final, Adu got his first US start in two years and was arguably the best player on the pitch in the first half as the United States raced out to a 2-0 lead in front of a largely hostile southern California crowd against rival Mexico. But El Tri had too much quality for the US that day and came back to win 4-2. In the days following the match, Bradley was sacked and Adu has not been called into the US squad since.
Adu’s stint with the Philadelphia Union in Major League Soccer, which began soon after that Gold Cup wasn’t a disaster but didn’t distinguish the player. But in the two and a half years since he left the Union, he has moved from club to club in four countries and two continents hardly playing and becoming the butt of jokes instead. Word has filtered out of each of those clubs that Adu has demonstrated a bad attitude and a seeming sense of entitlement. Whether this is the case or not, who knows, because after all the player has been under a microscope since signing his first pro contract with MLS at age 13.
Still only 26, Adu has the physical tools to still be a useful player. Returning to the United States and NASL might do the trick. The league, while physical and at times downright defensive, does have its tactical variation. The Rowdies, one of the better teams in the league, sport a number of players that can complement Adu’s attacking talent.
The Rowdies are an ambitious team with ownership that has invested a great deal of money into marketing the club. Signing Adu is a statement of intent that also makes the Rowdies an even stronger brand from a marketing standpoint. The question is whether or not Adu will reciprocate the faith of Rongen and the Rowdies by demonstrating a good attitude and showing signs of returning to heights he once enjoyed.