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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. People, people…have we watched Mr. Adu’s game? He is not a good fit for Holland. That league is a bit too physical for him.

    Beside that, what on earth would make anyone believe that he would get time with Ajax, a GIANT club in Europe, when he’s getting no time with Monaco?

    His best fit is in Spain (maybe Italy too) and perhaps he should try to get in a Liga B side and try to work up from there.

    Honestly though, I always get the impression that Adu thinks he is the cock of the walk and just doesn’t put the effort in to ‘force’ the coach to include him.

  2. like allen iverson would say…practice??? ya’ll talkin’ bout practice mayn….BS…lol….ADU has shown in with the U23…and U20s…he can make it out there…maybe not as a starter…but at least as a sub in the 65th minute on a strong squad…

  3. Chu Young Park starts in front of Adu at Monaco. Look up his stats; dude is not producing….there has to be some sort of hatin’ going on over there….u guys shouldn’t bash adu…at first, i didn’t like the kid, but he’s been showing a lot of promise and I wish he would get some playing time. I’m vietnamese, I was hoping Lee Nguyen would show some promise, but dude signed for the VN league…I played in VN…it sucks over there….stupid moves…adu is better than Lee Nguyen for sure…

  4. “Doesn’t Freddy give interviews? The question IS NOT so much why Freddy isn’t playing, but rather WHY DOESN’T ANYONE KNOW ANYTHING?? Our (very good) soccer reporters have really really stunk in this regard.”

    This is actually an interesting point because a friend of mine covered a few games at the U-20 World Cup in Toronto and he ended up covering the US games against Uruguay and Austria. He was actually amazed and quite annoyed at how much his handlers and USSF officials actually shielded him from talking to the media. At one game his handlers told any media at the post-game scrum that Freddy wouldn’t be doing any interviews. He told me it really pissed off a lot of journalists that were there because players like Gio Dos Santos, Sergio Aguero, and Altidore were actually a lot easier to get for interviews than Freddy Adu. He said he felt that USSF officials and his handlers were trying to sort of build this mystique around Adu by making it hard to gain access to interview him.

  5. im so sick of the hes not 19 hes more like 26 argument and the he’s too light weight he gets pushed off the ball easily argument and the he’s got a huge ego. The fact of the matter is when he was on the field for the u-20’s he was class. When he’s gotten on the field (with the exception of the T&T game) he’s been very good for the national team. When he was on the field and given a chance for Benfica he performed well. There really is no reason he should not be playing. He is better than any attacker monaco has, watch two or three monoco matches and you’ll see how garbage they are up front(well their team in general as well. Its a shame I feel bad for the kid.

  6. I saw Adu play last year in the US/Argentina friendly at Giants Stadium. He was absolutely fantastic when he came in as a sub. I can’t believe he cant crack the starting lineup at Monaco.

  7. In my eyes there are only two possibilities:

    1) Freddy is slacking off for whatever reason during training.
    2)The Monaco manager doesn’t like Freddy and is a complete douchebag.

    This could be a French version of Drogba vs. Scolari. You have a Fantastic player and a coach who he doesn’t get along with.

    Whatever the reason, he needs to communicate to his agent he wants out and wants playing time Every game he doesn’t play is a game he is missing out on progression.

  8. Absolutely pathetic I have seen Freddy play for Monaco he has stood out to me and has been much better than half that team. Shame on the coach

  9. Elsewhere on your blog, I made the point that the Galaxy should sell Beckham, sack Arena, and start afresh (by recruiting good college players, young internationals, some progressive-thinking good-with-young-players coach). Adu, Convey, Pearce, Spector, Johnson, and the like would fit in as a great part of that!

  10. “Maybe a transfer to Belgium with Club Brugge or Anderlecht could help his game.” I know for sure he would not see any playing time with Anderlecht, they have enough attacking options, and i doubt he would get enough playing time with Brugge. I think its time for him to go back stateside, but i guess he was no good here either.

  11. 1. Freddy is not 19. He’s probably closer to 22. They have every birth record at the hospital he was born at in Ghana… except his. He volunteered to do a bone-marrow test… but his mom and agent stopped him. He might think he’s 19, but he’s not 19.

    2. He’s slow. If you are 5-foot-5 and expect to play pro soccer at the highest level, you better be as fast as Shaun Wright-Phillips or Aaron Lennon, both of whom are similar sized players but are much faster.

    3. Throughout his youth development, he always had big bursts over his opponent — but those bursts got shorter as he got older, i.e., others caught up.

    4. He’s got the tricks, yes. The dribbling and the set pieces. But not the overall game. Both Monaco and Benfica have better options and he isn’t playing.

  12. I’ll say bring Freddy and any U.S. player not getting any playing time in Europe, especially the ones that are not even dressing up back to the MLS. Let them mature here in U.S. soil before sending back to Europe.

    Let’s take Landon for example. Difference in Landon between his first and second try in Europe and now is maturity.

    I’ll pay to see Freddy play in the MLS.

  13. I love that any time we talk about an American player, he gets to be a symbol of “All That Is Wrong With American ‘Football/Soccer/Sawker,'” etc. It’s insightful and helpful in understanding the situation. Thanks.

    But on point, it seems to me that Freddy’s problems are probably a combination of most everything that people have mentioned, although the idea that coaches will always play the players who are objectively the best is kind of laughable. Has anyone watched the US National Team over the last 10 years? Coaches are people just like players are people, and they pick favorites, have blindspots, and hold grudges like anyone else. Is that the only reason Freddy is on the bench? No way, but coaches aren’t infallible, so the fact that Freddy can’t get playing time at Benfica or Monaco does not necessarily mean that he’s not good enough.

  14. Hate to think it, but the Mexican league might be good for him. OR, even a league in Argentina or Brazil would be good. His size combined with his skills on the ball would help him excel in those leagues. MLS just doesn’t have enough to offer, though I wouldn’t complain getting him back!

  15. Throw me into the camp that says Freddy should return to the US to polish his game. He may have lofty dreams and high expectations for himself, but simply playing in Europe just to sit on a bench is not the way to achieve them.

  16. contradiction in the comments:

    -one of Freddy Adu’s biggest problems is his big ego and sense of entitlement

    -this time spent on the bench and struggling for minutes is detrimental to his career

    If you honestly feel that Freddy’s ego is an issue, isn’t sitting the bench and fighting for playing time extremely beneficial?

  17. if you guys are ever down about freddy or any of our other young players just look to matt derbyshire to cheer you up. matt derbyshire was an english u-21 international and a proflific goal scorer on that level. he was on balckburn and touted as one fo the best young english strikers in the english barcalys(which wont be a sponsor for much longer) premierleagueship. Now he hasnt been able to produce at balckburn and now he ios going to olypiakos on loan. OLYMPAIKOS!! This is just what I have beem waiting for to prove english football sucks. the Greek league is alot worse than the preimeirship but once derbyshire cant even make the bench for them people all around the world will laugh at the. i mean how great would it be to see other englsih players in leagues outside of england? Mark noble in Portugal? or whatta about luke young in spain? Or how bout darius vassel in italy? or maybe Kevin Nolan in Russia? This would be as the English like to say a laugh!!!! Lets toast to high school girls and to the death of englsih football.

  18. One issue which is never mentioned is Freddy is not very fast. He is quick and has a lot of tricks, but does not posess much pace (If you don’t believe me, watch his games again and see if he pulls away from anyone in open space).

    You can be successful without top class pace if you are strong on the ball, or have a high work rate, but Freddy does not have those either. He currently needs be played as an attacking player without much defensive responsibility, and he’s not good enough for that role currently.

  19. I think the problem with many American players who have been given the high road their whole lives is they don’t know how to fight for a spot. This is why the overhyped guys don’t succeed, the guy that can walk on any MLS team and start right away… that attitude is what hampers fredy and thats what BB has been trying to relay to him, to fight for it. Fight for the ball, don’t get pushed off so easily, work for your team mates, make the sure pass, these are the things fredy dosen’t do… so if your a coach who now has a kid who hasn’t proven himself one bit and he walks in with all this whoopla, what do you do? This coach has decided to low ball him… fredy’s next move will depend on what he wants out of his career. If he wants to be a highly paid benh player, he’ll stay at monaco and then go back to benfica, if he wants world cups and championships and a real legacy he makes a move to PT and probably should take a pay cut to get it.

  20. Ives,

    Pull some strings, I believe every word you wrote. He is a extremely talented kid and his game is being hurt by riding the bench.

  21. I think everyone just has to come to the realization that Freddy Adu isnt that good. He is an average player at best. Hype and attention doesn’t guarentee minutes and success.

  22. People often forget that they were screaming “hack” at Dempsey in his first season at Fulham. Fans can be really impatient. Monaco’s probably not the place for Freddy. But what he needs to do is put two years in at some club…the minutes will come. It’s hard for a 20 year old to walk into a new club and take a starting spot.

  23. Most of the commenters have hit it, the correct synthesis is:
    1. doesn’t play a lick of defense
    2. small and not very strong, easily dispossessed
    3. lacks breakaway speed
    4. “big head”
    5. bloated salary that makes smaller league teams unable to assume his contract.

    Bottom line — Freddy needs to go to a “smaller” league for less money and actually develop his craft. Time is running out on him he is close to becoming the next Jovan Kirovski.

  24. Freddy’s a no-defense playing tweener which means he has to get to the point where a coach says, “How could I not play him? I better do the tactical shuffle and make wholesale changes to get him on the field!”

    Defense and positioning are a state of mind that Freddy doesn’t want to visit (as much as Utah it seems!), and until he does, it’ll be very tough to get minutes.

  25. I’m sick of these type of stories all the soccer sites continuously post regarding Adu. We all want to know the answer so ask the questions. Puts some boots on the ground, get out there, call the manager, call the team, call Benifica, do something. This is probably the 10th playing time post i’ve read this year. Can’t someone just do the reporting and get the job done?

  26. He’s a kid. Not many players his age consistently start in top divisions. Many–myself included–thought he’d be seeing more clock at this point, but this is nothing to freak out about. He’s a good player with a long career ahead of him. After 6 years, I’m really tired of all of this “will Freddy ever make it?” talk. He’s obviously not Pele, but who cares…we’ve known that for a long time. He’ll contribute to the National Team and he’ll help the Nats progress over the next decade.

  27. for everyone saying freddy is better than the people they have at monaco i ask who:

    definitely not better than:



    young players who he MIGHT (there is room for debate either way) be on par with who are actually signed to monaco meaning they have more incentive to develop them:

    park (a guy who at least made an impact in his home league before moving abroad)


    nimani (6′ 3″ target striker)

    young academy player who MIGHT already be above adu in depth chart:


    plus monaco has more young promising players who havent played much who might be more important to their future plans than adu

  28. “””who does monaco normally start at attacking mid?”””

    See, this mindset is so typical of u.s. sawker. It stems from the unlimited substitution game, which is what we play here, that concepts such as attacking mid and d-mid could become so standard. You see, you need to be able to “attack” as well as play “d” as a mid, if you want to play in Europe.

    For example, did you see “Mash” for Liverpool yesterday, with an excellent thru ball that set-up the goal, the best pass of the game, from someone the American game would dub a “d-mid.”

    Adu probably needs to play some “d” and just doesn’t feel like it. In his mind, he’s an “attacking” mid.

  29. Freddy is one of the top 5 technically gifted players in the US pool, but speed wise he lacks a top gear that other attacking players have and defensively he is a liability.

    Freddy and his agent need to be realistic after this failed Monanco move, a mid level club in a mid level league where he can get playing time should be the next move. He needs pt to make a breakthrough.

    I’m pulling for Freddy, I think his attitude and his work rate have improved in the last year, and he could still be a bigtime asset for the Nats.

  30. I don’t think it’s the agent, it’s the player himself.

    Adu couldn’t get out of America quick enough. He was too good to learn the system at DC and come in as a sub, so he demanded out for RSL, then demanded out again to Europe.

    Now he’s there, and he’s figured out that instead of being the wonderkid, the future of American soccer, he’s just another kid in the crowd.

    This is why I think Altidore has found more success than Adu. Altidore took his time, didn’t throw fits about playing out of position or taking a seat, but tried to get better.

    I think Adu needs playing time above all else. Some time in perhaps the Spanish 2nd league would do him good. Learn the game the Spanish way, which suits him IMO, and he’ll see a lot of time there.

    One would hope anyway. Another failed stint and he might be coming back the the MLS with his hat in his hand.

  31. why is everyone so enamored of that freekick? it was in the best third of the goal, but the keeper just bounced the wrong way. it’s like feilhaber’s goal: one shining moment. Feilhaber’s was great skill, but what about the other 89 minutes?

    Watch Freddy play and I see him struggle in the middle of the park. And he has stated that he won’t play out wide, which is where I’ve seen his best moments come from. I feel like he’s an attitude problem and needs to be sitting and watching games for a couple years before his skills will finally be matched by his soccer brain and attitude.

  32. Good luck Freddy, stiff upper lip, yah?

    As for Ranieri giving him props you may need to read that quote again. The question posed was about how someone so young could play that well against Juve and Ranieri says “yeah, is he only 19?” in a wry manner, meaning he thinks is cleary at least 23 and that his age is falsified. No matter though.

    Just curious for everyone who seems to champion playing in the Dutch league, how much Eredevisie do you watch? What is the obsession with this league? Becuase it lacks stout defenses and players can score in droves? Not sure what that does for one developmentally. Not that it has any bearing on anything, I would just like to see Adu go to a team/league where he can get starts or solid subs (at ’65, none of this last 5 mins biz) and be nurtured. That is what his agent should be looking for, he’s in a joke of a situation right now. Also, maybe a club that’s hungry to build something as opposed to one that is fighting to stay up in Ligue 1, we all know when that happens coaches tend to favor tried hands and vets.

  33. Don’t know that there is much that can be done about this situation. It is all up to Adu, yet again what he wants to do. He can either continue to stay at Monaco and see what he can so about his current situation, or he can go elsewhere yet again…

    Unfortunate turn of events… Hopefully something good comes out of this situation soon…

    Onto more important news, anxiously awaiting the roster for the February 11th showdown against Mexico…

  34. Freddy need to bite the bullet salary wise and move to a team that will play him. Robbie Rogers did the same for different reasons when he left Holland to return to the MLS. It has paid dividends for him in getting valuable playing time. I am not saying return to the MLS, just follow the example-he needs to go where he is going to play. At his age, experience is more important than money.

  35. I guess my question is what is the point of this article? We all know that he is not playing at all. If he were, it WOULD get headlines on major websites such as ESPN and SI.

    Yes, it is frustrating for Americans to see one of our own riding the pine (or bucket seats depending on the stadium), but let’s be honest… the kid is too short. Yes, there are other short players out there, but he is only 5’5″ (on a good day).


    So the real reason is that he can’t play defense. I know that it seems like something that he has improved on, and he has, but he still can’t defend and if you can’t do that you shouldn’t be on the field as a midfielder.

  36. It’s a shame, but that’s the life of a Pro Footballer!!! He still has plenty of chances though. Look happen to Landon! He’s just has to MAN UP!! NAH MEAN!!


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