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Freddy Adu’s struggle for minutes continues

 Freddy Adu 1 (AFP)


Can anyone explain why American sensation Freddy Adu is not getting more playing time with mid table AS Monaco in the French Ligue 1?

This is one question that bothers and still perplexes this writer. Yes Adu did not dazzle in MLS when he played for DC United or Real Salt Lake, but amongst young talents in Canada at the FIFA U-20, especially against Brazil, he dominated that game which paraded Pato and Jo.

That’s in the past and even after I interviewed the diminutive star after his transfer to Benfica, it looked like some hope was on the horizon with the move to Portugal. But after riding the bench with Benfica, a loan to Monaco looked pleasant for Adu in the form of experience and with fellow Africans in the league, he has to succeed, right?


Last year, when Adu was in Commerce City, CO to represent USA against Guatemala in the 2010 World Cup qualifier, I spoke with him about the Monaco situation and you could tell he did not really know what to say. This was before the game.

After his impressive performance and free kick in the U.S. team's win vs. Guatemala, Adu was more optimistic, pointing out that the Monaco president and coach watched the game and he expects some more playing time when he returns to Europe.

That was in November.

His last game for Monaco was on December 21 against Girondis Bordeaux. Since then, Adu has not been on the bench for Monaco, currently placed 14th on the league table, and has yet to play a league or cup game in 2009.

Though players like Jurgen Klinsmann, Thierry Henry, David Trezeguet along with George Weah have don their colors, Monaco is a shadow of its self, so why can’t Adu crack the team?

Loan deals are done most times for players to get experience and playing time. Manchester United sent Tim Howard to Everton and the Toffees eventually signed the American numero uno. Arsenal sent Mexican international Carlos Vela, then their U-17 purchase, to Spain for some time. Vela is back, but riding the bench due to the experience in front of him. Landon Donovan is getting some time with Bayern Munich, and rightfully so. The same can be said for his LA Galaxy teammate David Beckham.

For Adu, the story is totally different and the lingering question is why? Is it about the teams he plays for, or is it about the player? Adu has been with four clubs in the past three years, a pattern that makes you wonder just what should be the realistic expectations be for him.

Everyone thought Adu's performance a couple of weeks ago against Juventus, which earned praises from Claudio Ranieri would get him back into the team, but that is yet to be seen. The reality is if Adu gets no playing time in Monaco, it will start to affect his game, his confidence and most importantly the opportunity to prove that he is that quality player America needs.

Maybe a transfer to Belgium with Anderlecht or Club Brugge could help his game; get some years under his belt there, but those teams cannot afford his lucrative salary. What about the Dutch league with PSV Eindhoven where DaMarcus Beasley was a success? Maybe even Ajax, a club known in the 90’s to produce quality young talent like Clarence Seedorf, Edgar Davids, and de Boer brothers?

What do you think, share your thoughts on Adu's situation below.


  1. I read all the comments and the articles because there is usually someone who has the inside track and actually will present the answer to a bit of a puzzle such as this. However, I have not read a post yet that encapsulates all the facts that I present below, so I am hoping to check back in a couple of days, or maybe the author will get an interview with the coach of Monaco.

    1) Freddy was wasted at DC United. I played sports at an elite level and there are few coaches who are as good as their athletes, so they are usually looking for someone that can win in spite of the coaching (which is really managing), or who is “under the radar”, so that the coach looks good if the player improves. The nightmare is a player like Freddy, who could actually benefit from top flight coaching, in the sense of instruction, but the coach has nothing to gain personally, as any improvement is “expected” and any failure must be the coach, which they are quick to blame on the player.

    2) The MLS is getting better, but was so bad when I watched the games that no one could string together passes of more than 3-4 if going forward, before some errant pass was intercepted. Additionally, they simply fouled Freddy almost everytime he had the ball. He did not have much strength, as his DC coach told him to stop lifting weights (his Brandenton high school regime) and just worry about being quick! Now he looks as though he is lifting again. On an aside, Nowak is now the Under-23? coach? Yikes! He may have been a good player, but its well known in this sports crazy country that fact does not translate into great coaching very often.

    3)He succeeds when he plays attacking midfielder and does not do well from a forward or wing position. Everytime he “disappears” it is usually because some coach is going to be “the one” who converts him to these other positions.

    4) His passes are wasted in the MLS and usually on the US team, as Bradley has few players, his son is a blind spot (previous post used the term for coaches) and even tried to stick him back at forward again, where he is physically mismatched against even lousy CONCACAF teams.

    5) Was only spark against Spain for US until hard foul on instep of foot (it happens). Disappeared against Barbados or someone like that, although a through ball set up only score, it was more due to the effort of the player coming forward, but he was put at forward again, so that should be a lesson to Bradley to give that up.

    6) Because he is lefty, the coaches want to stick him at the left wing. It is unimaginative, text-book soccer, much like thinking a left-handed batter will beat out more bunts in major league baseball. Is this really the strategy to win the world series! It does not need to be so in soccer either.

    7) His defense is lacking, but I do not know at this point how much of that is lack of playing time against good players. The game at high speed is a thing of beauty and its hard to get enough of that, unless the practice teams are exceptionaly, which I doubt Monaco is such a club that is so deep, as even some of the starters are questionable.

    8) He got his shot at Juventus game and delivered! Beautiful move and was going to shoot on goal! I thought maybe his lack of goal scoring, which is the big problem from my limited vantage point, was about to alleviate. In the past he would beat a player, but take too hard a line to the goal and simply get fouled. Freddy seems to have learned to take better angles and was weaving his way through players, instead of expecting them to whiff as he went by. Saw some of that against Brazil in Under-20. Either way, he deserves more time after that (I think he was even at forward).

    8) I do not believe the coach was expecting that to happen and is stuck. On the other hand, if that generated some interest, maybe a couple of clubs came calling. It would be realistic for a powerhouse to “loan” Freddy, as he is cheap by their standards and would be an everyday practice player on squads that are good enough for practice to be better training than game time in weaker leagues or on weaker teams in excellent leagues.

    I hope someone who really knows all the scoop will respond to the post.



  2. Aristotle:

    “Yes Mike, we should wait at least a decade before being concerned about Freddy’s development. Maybe even until he is 30.”

    Enough said about that.

    Don’t get me wrong here–I, too, have concerns about his resolve. But I think most 19-year-olds starting at top-division European clubs either came up through the academy or have put in a couple of years (Pato). Count me as one of those that thinks it’s insane that Adu has spent 4 years hopping around to 4 different clubs. I say he picks a spot, doesn’t go out on loan, and fights for minutes for a couple of years. If, after two seasons (honest, at this point, I’d be satisfied with a season and a half) things aren’t looking up, then I say we start freaking out about his development and open the discussion on bringing him home. This is just my opinion. I think it’s completely reasonable. But, of course, you have every right to disagree.

  3. Mike Caramba:

    Please point to the part of my post where I said you said we should wait a decade to be concerned. Please.

    That was just a general comment based on a lot of comments by others and yourself. It was also meant to be sarcasm. I don’t literally mean a decade.

    I really don’t think too many people are saying he’s washed up. That would be extreme, but I think a lot of people have realized that he’s probably not going to get much better, and that he certainly won’t reach anywhere near the potential a lot of people thought he had. I’d like to see his psychological situation addressed. His frame of mind is all wrong and he seems to be a little detached from reality. Someone should have done a better job of protecting him from all of the hype.

  4. Way late to comment here, but notice no one mentions the fact that Adu is an extremely selfish player. He can pass into dangerous positions, cross, and hit free kicks, but he would rather try to dribble through five players. You can’t always play against a Dutch Olympic that has sworn off playing defense… The skills he does have are way too rare among US players, but his ego is way too big.

  5. Freddy is all about Freddy. Last I remember this game was a team sport. As soon as Freddy learns to stop “hot-dogging” and actually playing for and with his team on the pitch, then he may very well see more time.

    How very American of most fans to assume he deserves time or a start. Freddy has been giving minutes as a sub and apparently has not wowed to coaches. Even if a coach or all Eruo-coaches have a anti-American player bias, they still have to do one thing……….WIN! If the coach thought for one second that Freddy was the answer….. Freddy would be playing.

  6. Freddy was a child when he became the face of MLS and was playing with a bunch of A-hole adults who knocked him down on and off the field all the time. The experience challenged his character constantly. He had a ton of responsabilty at a tender age. At that age all most of us had to worry about was raking leaves, washing dishes, or cleaning the cat box. He was being watched and critiqued at every move. Not only that but he was expected to be the saviour of a Crap Expansion team in RSL when most kids are crapping their pants over the vocab test they forgot to study for. All the focused attention probably produced a diva at times but mostly I bet he just wanted to be left alone to stay focused and concentrate on the game.
    That being said, he’s no Messi, no Bojan, no Kaka but he’s really freaking good, he’s getting a bad rap, he’s one of ours and I don’t care what anybody says. He belongs on the US National Team and he deserves an agent that can put him on a team that needs him and respects him.

    Also, I agree that the SBI reporters need to get on the ball and get more info.

  7. Aristotle:

    1. Please point to the part of my post where I propose we wait a decade to be concerned. Please.

    I believe I’m proposing we wait until he’s been in one place for more than a year before we start to freak out. Remember, Clint Dempsey wasn’t getting many minutes his first year at Fulham…everyone has to climb the ladder.

    2. I don’t know if you’ve read these posts, but it seems like most American fans have given up on Freddy. Does anyone REALLY think he’s the next Pele? People seem to be occupying the opposite extreme, saying this kid is washed up at age 19. Both sides seem equally ridiculous to me.

    3. I hope he gets more playing time in the coming months. It is important to his development. BUT, I’m just saying, we should keep in mind that most kids aren’t starting for top-division European clubs at Age 19. AND, considering all of the people so concerned about Freddy’s ego, I’d think they’d see it as extremely beneficial for him to be “put in his place” and forced to fight for his minutes.

    We criticize the kid for his sense of entitlement, yet we ourselves think he is entitled to a starting spot? Someone…anyone…please explain how this makes sense.

    4. I’m not pretending this season is successful. Of course it’s a disappointment. I’m just tired of people acting like this is the end of the world or the end of this TEENAGER’S career. He’s got many years ahead of him and I’d hate to see him give up on top-level soccer because of a slow start. I hope he buckles down and makes the necessary adjustments. I’d like to see him fight.

  8. Yes Mike, we should wait at least a decade before being concerned about Freddy’s development. Maybe even until he is 30.

    It really doesn’t matter that he is at a young age at this point. It’s the fact that he’s been playing professionally forever.

    He has very little soccer intelligence. He still tries moves that only high school players would fall for. He’s bought into all of the hype and now thinks superstar status is his right, rather than something he has to earn. People have fawned over him for far too long. It’s likely he will never be that good. People need to get over it. How many more years are we going to have to listen to the “Freddy is going to be a superstar someday” stories? I stopped caring a long time ago, and if people wanted to do Freddy a favor they would do the same. Right now he is a mediocre to average player (albeit with some flashy moves) who will always be that way if people continue the fawning. Remove the spotlights.

  9. This blows my mind. I would much rather have Freddy fight for a place on a first-division European team than pull a Landon.

    Okay–if Freddy isn’t getting more time or isn’t making the bench at a bigger team at the age of 22 or 23, I understand the reason for concner. But why are we getting mad at a TEENAGER for not owning a starting spot at a club he’s been at for approximately 6 months? Did I think he’d get more time by now? Sure. But this isn’t the end of the world.

    And for those of you who insist on making the Freddy-is-actually-26 argument…I have friends who played against him when he was 11. I’m pretty sure they would have noticed if he were actually 18…or 15… I guess Freddy’s mom knew she could get away with it because she knew he’d always look several years younger than he “actually” is. Convenient. She’s an eviler version of Ms. Cleo–she can see the future!

  10. I tend to agree with the assessment that Freddy is likely older than 19, at least by a couple of years. I would also echo my desire to see him move to a league where he can play and still get healthy exposure and training against good competition. I think Holland, Belgium, even possibly Scotland would all be good choices, as well as Serie B or the Championship in England. I would not place him in Scandanavia.

    Still, its hard to understand his not getting on the field with Monaco. Yes, they have better attacking options. But they have played poorly and Freddy has shown a knack for being a game changing performer who can sub in to a match for someone in poor form. I hope Benfica sells him over the summer.

  11. It’s simple: Freddy is on loan at Monaco not because the latter expected to play him much right away, but because it expected to get a long enough look to figure out how much to bid for him.

    People here have to get a grip. He’s a great talent, and probably would step it up in the right top-level environment. But he’s also still a kid, in development terms. Most top-level youth strikers are not cracking their first teams regularly at 20. Does anyone think 18-year-old Danny Welbeck is going to be a day-in, day-out striker at Man Utd. within 18 months?

    And Edu isn’t at that level. He’s a good player, but not a world class player. He’ll have a long and distinguished career if he’s brought along properly.

    But anyone here who thinks he’s read at his age and relative inexperience to step in and start in Europe, a) overestimates MLS, as usual; b) underestimates the skill level at the top level, and c) doesn’t understand that top clubs groom players. It is highly unlikely you will see more than about one player in a decade go directly from MLS to leading a top-level European club’s attack.


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