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Remember all the excitement? Remember all the hype? I know I do. I was twelve years old sitting by the mailbox waiting to get that letter. The piece of paper that says, I officially joined the Freddy Adu Fan club. Exclusive Fan club membership came with an Adu, DC United, sticker and a signed 8X10 picture of the 14 year old prodigy; it was kind of a big deal to say the least. Freddy Adu was a legend before he even stepped on the field. He was what was going to make soccer in American cool; he was the savior. Adu was the youngest player ever to play in a professional game, and just a week later; the youngest to ever score a professional goal. On top of that, the kid just landed a date with the, then, hottest chick in Hollywood, JoJo. Could things get any better for good ole Freddy? All that was back in 2004. Eight years later, people are asking themselves…Freddy who?
Adu kind of, well no he completely, fell off the map after his rise to fame as the youngest professional player at just the age of 14. After two years with DC United, Adu left the team to join Real Salt Lake of the MLS. His short MLS success led him to leave American soccer and head to Portugal to play with Benefica. His name in the public eye seemed to leave with him when Adu fled the country for Portugal’s second tier of leagues. Seven years out of the spot light and two years off the US soccer radar, it was evident that Freddy “Bust” Adu would forever be a “has been”.
Hearing last month, that Adu was on United State’s Gold Cup roster, brought out a few laughs. Hey, the little man might increase ratings or even be a solid marketing scheme. The constant camera shots of Adu’s bench warming abilities have been a great conversation piece for US supporters across the nation. That’s all Adu was for the first four U.S. Gold cup games; a bench warmer.
Oh how things change in a matter of minutes. In the Gold Cup semifinals the U.S. and coach Bob Bradley were on their last leg during a 0-0 tie with surging Panama. The US looked flat and desperate for revival when the 65th minute came around. The US needed a surge from the bench and here comes….wait who is that? Freddy Adu? He still plays? These words came out of the mouths of thousands of Americans, shocked at the sight of seeing the once prodigy trot onto the field. Desperation must have been so much worse for the United States then anyone could have thought. We’re turning to Freddy Adu to win in the semifinals? We’re hopeless.
Adu sprinted onto the field and went directly to fellow substitute and Captain, Landon Donovan and whispered a few sweet nothings in his ear. “Hey Landon, uh what do I do? It’s been awhile since people have watched me play”. Quickly, Adu was immersed right into the action; receiving passes out of the midfield and distributing them effectively. Can he actually play?…Wiggling through defenders and creating a presence in the midfield, the shock heard around the soccer world is quickly becoming Freddy Adu. No way, it can’t be, he was washed up at 16. It was in the 75th minute when the tables turned and Freddy mania was officially revived.
Ten minutes from when he came onto the pitch, Adu made a dazzling, left footed, pass from the midfield to Landon Donovan. Donovan then set up Clint Dempsey for the game winner with a beautiful pass along the six yard box. The United States ended up winning 1-0 on the goal. The once savior of American soccer, Freddy Adu, had finally lived up to his once superhero persona. Adu saved the day and played remarkably.
Freddy Adu resembled the spark and allure he did just seven years ago when he first stepped on to the pitch as a professional. Was it just one good game? We’ll soon find out, but it seems Freddy Adu could just be what U.S. soccer has been looking for and what Bob Bradley needs to save his job. Freddy mania is back.
Image Courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/50322345@N02/