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Gold Cup: Adu’s chance to shine

Freddy Adu 1 (Reuters)



Freddy Adu was forced to watch every minute of the U.S. national team's dream run to the final of the Confederations Cup from the bench. That most likely will not be the case for him in the Gold Cup.

Coming off a disappointing season with Monaco, Adu is expected to see significant playing time for the U.S. throughout the CONCACAF tournament and he will also most likely be handed the keys to the team's offense.

This opportunity will be vital for Adu as it will give him a chance to prove his worth consistently, as well as provide him with a way to make a case for his inclusion in the remainder of the Americans' World Cup qualifying campaign.

While the level of the opponents in the United States' Group B is noticeably weaker than that of the Hexagonal, Adu and the young U.S. team will be tested. The team opens up at Grenada on Independence Day, then takes on a Honduras side that gave the full-strength U.S. team a scare before losing 2-1 in Chicago last month. The U.S. team closes out the group stage with a match against lowly Haiti.

With head coach Bob Bradley looking to add depth to his top team, Adu will clearly need to be one of - if not the - best performers for the United States in the tournament. Adu needs to show Bradley and his critics that he provides more to the table than just offensive creativity.

Tracking back will be just as important as the inch-perfect through balls that Adu is known for. No, Adu is not going to be asked to defend like Javier Mascherano, but he will need to show that he can apply pressure competently and help the team regain possession. Such qualities are important for a team like the United States, which relies heavily on its defensive shape and pressure.

Adding these traits to his precise passing, superb vision and deft touch would surely give him the best chance to succeed in the Gold Cup.

"He has qualities to be a great player and so once he gets in the right situation to shine and show his qualities, I think he is going to take off," Oguchi Onyewu told SBI in May during the U.S. team's training camp in Miami.

If Adu can show that kind of confidence in himself and overcome the rustiness that comes with not having played much in recent months then the sky is the limit and the Gold Cup could just serve as his official coming out party.

So what's my take on Adu? I think it is blatantly obvious to see that he is a technically-gifted individual, but one who is not ready to break into the starting eleven just yet.

Lets face it, Bradley is not going to go with a 3-5-2 formation and he is unlikely to deploy a 4-4-2 diamond midfield lineup, so where exactly does Adu fit in the current scheme? Well, he isn't a central midfielder and he isn't a forward, so that leaves Adu on the flanks, positions currently occupied by incumbents Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey.

This leaves Adu as a role player, one who comes off the bench in certain situations (not every game). If the former youth standout wants to earn more serious looks then he needs to prove his worth every time he steps onto the field for the U.S., a task that even he acknowledges.

"Jozy (Altidore) and I were in similar situations coming into the national team. We're both young players that have to earn their spot on the team," Adu said in training camp back in May. "Jozy kept working and working, he got his chance and took full advantage of it and hopefully when I get my chance I take full advantage of it."

Adu's big chance starts when the U.S. takes on Grenada in their Group B match on Saturday.


What do you think of Adu? Do you agree that he is not ready to be a starter for the national team? Think he should already have a bigger role with the team? Do you believe that he will carry the offensive load and prove his worth in the Gold Cup?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. harry,

    You are missing the point.

    I’m sure Bradley would play him more if Adu could just get some club team to play him regularly or even at all. This last year he couldn’t get more than 9 appearances for a crap Monaco team. National team players develop their potential at the club level because no national team is together enough to develop a player.

    Kjlestan, as badly as he has played latley, is a regular with Chivas, while Adu couldn’t even do that with Real Salt Lake. Stuart Holden is doing very well for Houston and did very well for the the various Under whatever teams.

    This lack of playing time is on Adu not Bradley, Kjlestan, or Holden. How come everyone else is to blame except for maybe the kid himself?

    It seems you want to build the US team around Adu. Well, you’ve missed the boat.

    It is already quite clear the USMNT is built on stout, team defense and on quick counters. This requires certain types of players. The two players who Adu would most likely replace are Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan, two very experienced guys who aren’t going anywhere for a while and play pretty much every minute.

    Adu isn’t ready to replace them just yet and I believe his time, if at all , will be in the 2014 World Cup.

  2. What are some comparisons to Adu’s technical gifts, vision, limited size/strength, and ok-but-not-great speed? If I’m being optimistic, I could say Luka Modric or – as someone already mentioned – Messi (don’t we all wish). Not that he’s there yet, or ever will be, but seems like they play the sort of roles he should be looking for. It’s true, I don’t know if the US’ model of size/speed/power has room for his skill set unless he rally steps it up….I guess we’ll see. I’m hopeful, because I enjoy watching him.

  3. He is a skillful player but he hasn’t advanced since he stepped on the field for DC United (I was at that game). He is still the same size, plays defense like a NBA player, and is taken out of the game too easily. He does not compare favorably with Dempsey, Davies, and Bradley who have unlike Adu, made it in Europe or Donovan and Altidore. Consequently, he does not get into the first 11 for the US.

  4. Adu by far is the best footwork skilled player we have. If you disagree, than you haven’t been watching Adu in the last 2 years. I would be stunned if he is not in the starting 11 in the gold cup. He should and will be in the W.C 2010.

    Casey,Cooper,Sasha,Twellman,Eddie Johnson, Should never EVERRRR play for the U.S team! Bottom line!

    These are the players I would like to see play none important games for the U.S. ADDDUUUUUU!, Szstella,Kamani Hill,Angulo?,Bernardo,Ferrari,Nyuen,White,Orozco,Sizzo.


    If I coached the U.S. I make watch Messi video’s 5 hours a day to demonstrate how a superior skilled player slight of frame can succeed at football’s highest levels.


    No- he is no Messi but they have the build and frame and similar skill set yet Messi almost never goes to ground.

  6. Please Freddy, play, create, fight and defend like this is the career making/breaking moment it could be for you.

  7. I have a lot of faith in Freddy, I think he will do well but I am still not sure if that will be enough to get him more playing time than Kljestan as long as Bradley is making the decisions.

  8. “I hope Freddy proves me wrong but Adu has already suffered from too much sizzle and no steak, let him develop at his own pace”

    you see you just proved your fault. Adu needs to develop his full potential in order to be ready? thats a double-standard. Why does Adu have to play to his own standards of hype in order to be ready but players who have 10times less of a cieling get 90 minute starts. Thats a bunch of BS….in my book. You wanna downgrade Adu but then yet tell him he is ready fro when he reaches his hype? Thats odd and faulty.

  9. Jimmygreaves, so Kjlestan is 2010 worthy.its like youd dont get it you can hide behind the no appearence in Europe all you want but the fact is until you show me another US player give through balls to other players against World Class teams like he did Agaisnt Spain and Argentina..the kid is ready and hungry…you saying about Adu not ready for 2010 is odd and youd dont even know the reason why you said “for w/ever reason” . And Bradley played a 4-4-2 same system vs Spain,England,Argentina with Adu as a Foward………..And Adu was our best player Overall….. I was their for the Argentina game..that was a world Cup game in atmosphere and tension and Adu thrived off it. And again as i said Adu took away game-time form Angel Di maria which means he took away minutes that if Adu wasent there Di maria would have gotten even more. ……and then you mention Holden? what has he done? Its apparent that if you do good in MLS your a star and ready for World Cup (Kjlestan, casey) no matter how bad the MLS player stinks at the international level and if your on the bench in Europe your not ready(Adu).

  10. harry,

    Of course I didn’t see him with Benfica, he never played. Seriously, don’t get me wrong, I like Adu and he has potential but he probably won’t and I would argue, should not be, in the mix for the 2010 WC, unless he tears up the Gold Cup and THEN gets on a club where he can regularly play and shine.

    Did you watch the USMNT play in the Confederations Cup? They already have a certain style in mind and aren’t likely to deviate from what has proved to be a winning formula. Adu doesn’t fit in this formula. He is not really a goal scorer. In the last two years he has 55 appearances and 7 goals (counting the 3 cup goals which you mentioned and I did not since cup competition in Portugal is sort of sketchy) which gives him an average of one goal every 8 appearances. You can argue all you want about you goals per minute but the fact remains that Adu does not see a lot of games period. Of course you may think Adu is a goal poacher who comes on in the last few minutes to save the day like the great Ole Gunnar Solskjær but Ole averaged a goal every 1.9 games in his career. I’m afraid there is very little evidence that Adu is in that class.

    Angel Di Maria?

    “So highly regarded was Di María by Benfica that the president of the Portuguese club, Luís Filipe Vieira, when presenting the young Argentine, told the club’s supporters he had bought the perfect replacement for Benfica’s departing captain, Simão, a talismanic figure for Benfica for over five seasons.

    During the first months of his tenure in Lisbon, Di María showed that he was not in the least weighed down by the expectations, and the fans quickly took to the exciting talent.

    On 23 October 2008, Di María gave Benfica the lead in the UEFA Cup match against Hertha Berlin. The match eventually ended with a 1-1 draw, meaning that Benfica are yet to win in Germany after 16 attempts.”

    I can see that Freddy really damaged his career.

    harry, if Freddy can just get on a good club he may be fine for 2014. But trying to shoehorn him into the 2010 WC team when he is clearly not ready, for whatever reason, and when there may be better options developing (Stuart Holden) is not very productive. I hope Freddy proves me wrong but Adu has already suffered from too much sizzle and no steak, let him develop at his own pace.

  11. Adu has quick feet but is not fast, can strike the ball well but he does not lead a team well.

    He belongs on the U-20’s where he can get some more experience.

    He also belongs on a Club team where he will actually play all the time.

    Lets see what he can do in 2014.

  12. Jimmygreaves…………Its obvious you did not watch Adu with Benfica or Monaco……….how many times do people have to tell you how impressive he was. when he played and were baffled when he would not play more helle evn the Benfica fans…and we saw this when he was our best player Vs Spain,England and our top 2 with Donovan vs Argentina. Now you say he was nothing special to keep? Well is taking away minutes form Argentina “A” international Angle Di Maria special? Since Adu was also a year younger than Di Maria……i would think so since the fans wanted Adu to play more than Di Maria.

  13. Jimmgreaves, first of all, at least cite your deceptive stats correctly, second of all, pay attention to harry, who actually knows what he’s talking about.

    Posted by: wjmooner

    wjmooner and harry

    It’s easy. Go to google and then type in Freddy Adu.

    Pick any of the various sites listing his stats and then do the math.

    Years Club Apps (Gls)2

    2004–2006 D.C. United 87 (11)

    2006–2007 Real Salt Lake 11 0(2)

    2007– Benfica 11 0(2)

    2008–2009 → AS Monaco (loan) 09 0(0)

    As for goals per minute, you can do it that way but that means he has a lot of time as a sub which means (in Europe) his coaches don’t think a lot of him. I think you will find most people do it in terms of goals per game. Look, Benfica loaned him out to rot on the vine didn’t they? Or better yet, he has talent, but when you compare it to what else Benfica has available he is nothing special.

    I’ve seen him play a number of times and he has only been threatening when matched up against others his age. Against men, it looks like……men against boys. If you watch the Under -20’s of the US and other nations, I’ve seen many impressive players but 95% never make it at the Senior level. Its tough out there.

    I’d love him to prove me wrong but even if he is as good as you say, the US already has their “flair” player (Dempsey)who basically plays the same position. Adu, if ever, is a more likely fit for 2014.

  14. seriously Jimmgreaves, first of all, at least cite your deceptive stats correctly, second of all, pay attention to harry, who actually knows what he’s talking about.

  15. Adu is a good player. Maybe not a starter but certainly deserving of senior squad time. Lay off the kid, he’s been dragged through the gaunlet ever since the press found him! Pele? Apples to oranges.

  16. Jimmygreaves, you attempt at downgrading Adu is pretty sad. He had 5 goals in 450 minutes with Benfica………..the highest scoring average on the the team for 2007/2008………….so that equals 1 goal every 90 minutes. Then if you add in Monaco and the 100 only equals to then 5 goals in 550 mnutes……..which is still around a goal every 110 minutes which is still an amazing goal-scoring pace.

  17. That is, I take it all back if Kljestan no longer sees playing time ahead of Torres…

    and yes, I’m looking forward to Adu.

  18. Kanu and Harry hit the mark here.

    Even in his mins against costa rica he slipped a good through ball in the 18 that was shot high and wide. Adu creates chances. Yes his defense is soft and yes he does dissapear for stretches.. but in every game i’ve watched since the U20s he’s created at least 1-3 genuine good chances (usually in 45 mins or less).

    I would argue that his creative vision is the best in the pool.

    Freddy is simply an untapped potential gold mine. Why Bradley refuses to even test these waters is baffling. Especially given the mins sascha has received.

  19. “ell, he isn’t a central midfielder and he isn’t a forward, so that leaves Adu on the flanks, positions currently occupied by incumbents Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey.”

    Adu made a comment recently about working out at right mid. If – a BIG IF – he can adapt to right mid, that would allow Demspey to play the second forward. COuple be interesting. But I won’t hold my breathe.

  20. Since he moved to RLS, Adu has a total of about 31 appearances (not full games) and 3 goals,all for Benfica. One goal every ten games over two years. Top strikers average a goal every two games to three games per season(look it up. Adu is not,and never has been, a great goalscorer. His best role would seem to be a withdrawn no. 10 in the classic sense, or as a dribbling winger. Unfortunately, he lacks the kind of power that most of the US players have. He is too easy to push around. He lacks the kind of speed that Davies has or Earnie Stewart and Cobi Jones, or EJ before him had. The US need at least one forward with speed and Freddy ain’t it. Dempsey isn’t great defensively either but he does just enough and certainly more than Freddy ( slow, small and weak) would.

    With Holden, a far more useful and versatile player coming on, I see no place for Freddy in the World Cup squad. Frankly, he is a waste of space on the Gold Cup team. He must get a club where he can actually play more than a few minutes a year.

  21. Gianfranco pretty much hit the nail on the head. Adu is gifted, young, and a bright star but the way Bradley plays just doesn’t allow much of an opportunity for the attacking midfielder. Bradley’s empty bucket formation favors physical defensive destroyers in the middle of the field. This team is full of them and with the addition of Jones, continues to make this Bradley’s favorite position.

    Adu will sadly be left to rot on the bench.

  22. I think Adu should be a withdrawn striker behind Altidore — either as a starter or as a second half replacement for Davies when we need some “forward-possession,” i.e., guys who can take the ball and move it forward in a way that pressures the other side. Players with that ability can do a lot to relieve our opponents’ pressure on our often tired second-half defenders.

    Adu played brilliantly against Spain, Argentina, and in the u20 World Cup. Giving him the attacking reins in the Gold Cup is a no-brainer. Let’s see how he plays against senior internationals in matches that count — and if he plays poorly, the consequences are very small.


  23. How old is ADU and how tall. There is no way he is more than 5’5″

    Posted by: Jackie


    Are you kidding?

    He’s grown a lot since he went to Europe. If you look at the picture included in the story you can tell he’s as big as Drogba now.


  24. I remember at at around the 78th minute vs Brazil in the Final..bornstein got the ball near the 25th yard line in the middle of the pitch on the attack near Brazil’s goal and Dempsey made a brilliant run where he was wide open in the Brazil box and would ahve scored..but Bornstin choose to pass it too Davies in traffic and his pass got blocked and then Borstein shot it out-of-bounds……………as we have seen in the past with Adu….Adu would have made the thru pass to Dempsey and we would have been winning 3-2…………thats the difference between Adu and BB’s give-away favorites who arent as good as BB like to advertize.

  25. I think Gianfranco is right that there are serious questions about where he fits in with the current national team set, i.e. the more defensive/counter-attacking style we played at the Confederations, which we will likely be using at the World Cup and through many of the rest of qualifiers.

    The “wingers”– donovan and dempsey, do have defensive responsibilities in the formation, which Adu does not seem to like to do. Frankly, I would rather have Holden or Torres on the wings in the current set-up than Adu. When you start going through the roster spots, right now Adu is at best maybe the 20th guy on the team, right at the end of the bench. But where would he play? Forward might make the most sense, but are we going to see him play that position in the tournament? I think BB will like to try out the Ching, Alitodore, Davies trio in various combinations. It seems that those 3 will be the first choice forwards from here on out.

  26. Even without starting, Adu can fill a massive need for the US. At 2-2 against Brazil, the US was in desperate need of an attacking player to put one tidy play together near the goal — maybe wrongfoot a tired defender and win a penalty. Adu should shoot for this role — not unlike what Rossi did for Italy against the US in the first round of the Confederations Cup.

  27. If Adu gets 90 minute starts with his club team in Holland or SPain……………will he automatically get to be a starter now? i hope so…cuz it would be non-sens eiof he dident since thats what got Kjletan and Csey all thses un-warrented starts/minutes becuase they were playing and in-form.

  28. he will run all over the teams in group stage. can’t wait…
    for next year i think he will be a great sub to come in a add life and energy around the 70th minute

  29. He’s really 4’11, and just shy of his 33rd Birthday.

    All kidding aside, he says himself (in Twitter) that he’s 5’7. I guess he’s 20, but he was born in Africa, so give or take 1 or 2 years.

  30. Adu is know for both his inch perfect passes and Dribbling…..its actually funny people are gonna argue whats hes known for and everybody arguing a postive thing…and yet at the same time we will say “he is not a starter or he is not ready or he is not this” I mean after Wathing Bradley Jr. in early 2007 and Kjlestan in 2008/2009 get all these un-warrented starts……….why is Adu getting held to a different standard? Especially when Kjlestan was way over-rated and he proved this year with his constant give-aways.

    Also Adu might not not be a stiker but he sure is a Foward.. a Supporting Foward that is. Thats where he played his best vs Spain,England,Argentina and played when he was scoring those goals for Benfica.

  31. “inch-perfect through balls that Adu is known for”

    really? that’s what he’s known for? i thought it was dribbling.

  32. Without seeing him play this tournament, I see Adu as must on the WC roster but not a starter. He provides a unique set of skills that may come in handy in certain games off the bench. I do not see him as even remotely close to starting in the WC. But like I said, I would be happy to have him on the bench in a squeeze and hope he shows some of his ability in this tournament.


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