This editorial by the staff of The Shin Guardian
The juxtaposition could not be more stark….
Freddy Adu returning to MLS.
Had I told you that statement would make our publication–say two, three years ago–you would swear the publish date was 2020 and Adu’s resume would include at least one European trophy in hand.
And you’d probably suggest he’d be headed to the starry Galaxy in LA or the nouveau Cosmos playing in some cush, quaint digs off a Flatbush-bound train in Brooklyn.
But that’s not the case. It’s 2011 and the man who Nike once crowned American soccer’s prince-come-king returns to the States with a somewhat unique perception and with a passport that shows a winding–if ultimately fruitless–trail through Europe and one final crusade to the nether regions of Turkey.
Had Adu made this move as recent as January of this year, his homecoming might be perceived or labeled–rightly or wrongly–a flat failure, or more appropriately, the most glorious and spectacular failure of an American abroad yet. Even Eddie Johnson got some run at Fulham. Hey, wasn’t Adu once invited to Old Trafford by the knight himself? Yes and yes.
Didn’t Adu once adorn Pepsi ads, date pop stars and rule the Olympics one year? Wasn’t he the reason YouTube was founded? Yes, yes, yes and no, but he’s got more hits than Rick Astley on the video site.
The Philadelphia Union today announced the signing of attacking midfielder Freddy Adu on a free transfer from Sports Lisboa e Benfica of the Portuguese First Division.
Adu found himself in January toting around the gargantuan ball-and-chain of a contract from Benfica–the club who procured his services from MLS in 2007–and wearing the scarlet letter “A” for “Amateur” as reports of late night tomfoolery and practice pitch unprofessionalism leaked out to the media from the several player trials and loans he went on (Belenenses, Aris and more). Every pushpin destination, a coach seemed to challenge his behavior.
But it’s now August and my how quickly perceptions can change, and for Adu this did in all of 30 minutes and then 90 more.
The lead-up began just a few months earlier this annum.
First, a sojourn to to Rizespor in the Turkish 2nd division and if you want split hairs, Adu at this point had exhausted his European destinations.
Sent to a town with less than 100,000 people and no airport, distractions would not be a challenge that Adu had to surmount this time around.