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Adu delivers for USMNT after two-year absence

Freddy Adu 1 (Getty Images)



HOUSTON, Texas – Freddy Adu won't take it for granted. Not anymore.

After a near two-year hiatus, Adu made his return to the U.S. men's national team as second-half substitute in its Gold Cup semifinals match against Panama on Wednesday night at Reliant Stadium. It was the first time since a Gold Cup group stage match against Honduras on July 8, 2009 that Adu had played for the United States, and a moment he had long waited and worked hard for.

"I haven't stepped on the field for the national team in two years," said Adu. "To get a chance to be out there, I was very happy and fortunate and I just wanted to reward the coach's faith in me."

He accomplished that and maybe more as he helped create the lone goal in a tight contest against a Panamanian team that had been denying the Americans any clear looks on goals with physical and disciplined defending.

11 minutes after stepping onto the field and following a play in which the U.S. team played the ball well out of its back, Adu received a pass near midfield before unleashing a picture-perfect through ball that found fellow substitute Landon Donovan on the right flank in the 77th minute. Donovan took a couple of touches and then unleashed a driven cross that Clint Dempsey tapped home from close range.

Just like that, the Americans were looking at a place in the finals. And just like that, Adu had made an impact during a time when many questioned his inclusion on the U.S. roster.

""From the start of this camp, Freddy's made progress and so the opportunity tonight was earned on his part," said head coach Bob Bradley. "You could see him getting sharper. You could see confidence coming back. We had him on the bench the other day (versus Jamaica) with the thought that he could come in at a certain point and help. I thought the timing for tonight worked and again he was a nice part of the play that led to the goal and it's important for him. He's earned his way. He earned this opportunity."

Bradley also pointed out during his post-game press conference that Adu is a more mature player and person than he was a couple years ago, as he entered this summer's camp with a more professional approach. Bradley also gave respect to one of Adu's most recent decisions.

"When you see a player that goes to the second division in Turkey to keep things going in his career, that tells you something," said Bradley. "You can tell that when he got a chance in this camp, he appreciated it. He certainly had, when I say he's matured, it shows in the way he comes in, in the way he acts, in the way he trains, he knows what's expected.

"I said it earlier, actually I didn't say this part: He didn't start out this camp great. There were days early on where regaining confidence, the speed sometimes in training, there were a lot of days that didn't go great. But you could see over time that it was starting to get better and better and we feel like when we have a chance to have our group together for three weeks, four weeks, that you see this, and that's a good sign."

Adu's teammates said similar things after the game, with Donovan even saying that Bradley "certainly stuck his neck out by bringing him here and Freddy wants to reward him." 

That mission was accomplished, and Adu's message after the game was clear: he truly appreciated and enjoyed being back in the national team picture, having been forced to watch for nearly two years as he tried to sort things out at the club level.

"In a lot of different ways I took it for granted before," said Adu. "When you haven't been here for a while and you get a chance to be here, you really appreciate just being around the guys and just being on a national team and just knowing you really have to earn it, you really do. But once you get in, you have to keep working hard and keep getting better to get a chance to play."

Adu made it count when he got his chance, and although he didn't score the goal or deliver the assist, his role in the play that led up to Dempsey's finish was equally as important.

That's not to say that Adu is ready for a starting spot already. But it's also not to say that teammates like Tim Howard don't appreciate what the small but gifted attacker brings to the table.

"I love Freddy, I'm a fan of Freddy," said Howard. "He's a different type of player. He brings things to the team that not a lot of players can do. He's got God-given ability that can't be taught. Tonight was an example of that. He played unselfishly, passed the ball, the weight of his passes are crisp and clean, the right weight, and he can take people on. He's very good.

"I was glad to see him back. He's been eager, he's been chomping at the bit, he's been patient, he's been humble. It was good to see him put in a performance like that because it's important for us – it's important for him, but important for us."

As good as he is, Adu was one of the more questioned selections when Bradley announced his roster for the Gold Cup. But Bradley saw it was a reward for Adu's hard work, and although Adu didn't know whether or not he'd play, he was ready to seize the moment if it ever came.

"Mentally, you always have to be prepared because you never know when you're going to be thrown in," said Adu. "It's been a long road back to actually playing for the national team again, and you really have to be prepared if you get that chance to be out on the field. You want to be here, you want to represent your country. This is a level that you want to play at."

Adu won't take take the national team for granted. Not anymore.


  1. turkish house music sucks. Mali is where its at these days, especially for the cultured worldly minded and intelligent crowd.

  2. just 94 comments? i thought freddy had like 500k twitter followers, one of the highest for a soccer player.what gives? are those numbers like his age and Dallas FC attendance numbers highly inflated?

  3. if you take the time to actually read the article the last paragraph from the last starts off with a quote then SAID HOWARD (COMMA-meaning the quotation goes on)…the last paragraph starts out with a quote then: SAID ADU (COMMA).

    try reading articles instead of skimming them guys.

  4. Hey Freddy, the new Sport Director of Hamburg SV, Frank Arnesen, formerly of Chelsea, said today in a German newspaper interview that he is actively seeking a “creative” Number 10 middle fielder to make things happen. HSV after a disappointing season with highly paid flops has axed a lot of older players and is now focusing on developing young players with big potential. I think your agent, Freddy, should give Frank a telephone call 🙂

  5. Why fix it if it ain’t broke?

    How much of a lift is it knowing one of your all time best is going to give you a lift in the second half? Besides I think he’s injured as he still doesn’t have his speed back. Donovan is one of the most honest interviews out there so it wil be interesting to see what he says after the final.

    Mexico were brutalized by a very tough diciplined, powerful Honduras who would have won the game if they had Howard or even Hahnemann. Mexico were clearly tired and now Guardado and Salcido are injured and questionable.

    I have no problem starting Donovan but I’d rather keep him in reserve to finish off the Mexicans in the second half.

    What should be clear to everyone is BB seems to have a pretty good feel for the pulse of this bunch since he’s pulled a whole lot of positive moves I’m pretty sure none of you would have expected.

  6. “The important thing is he did make that pass, while the rest of the team either didn’t try to make passes like that or didn’t execute them.”

    That’s a silly thing to say.

    You forget it’s a team game.

    Opportunities for plays like that, involving not just Adu, but Bradley,Adu, Donovan, and Dempsey plus the “cooperation” of the Panamanians sometimes happens only once a game.

    Every one of those guys has to do their part and if they don’t, there is no goal and no discussion.

    If DC United bought Xavi he’d make them better but they still would not be Barca.

  7. I love when people like to pick one or 2 plays when he turned the ball over to try and put him down. Every player in the world turns the ball over and is guilty for trying to do to much even Messi and Xavi. The only time he really turned it over in his own half which is when it’s a real problem, he wasnt trying to do to much like other people said Jones kinda ran him over causing him to lose the ball.

    If that one mistake is enough to condemn his overall good performance then M. Bradley should never see the field again with the amount of times his slow bordeline clumsy feet gets stripped in his own half.

  8. I love it when I’m right. I said numerous times, I rather have a bench warming player on the USMNT who brings a different element to our game, than bringing Rogers,Sasha,Wondo, Casey,finly,buddle,Cooper and get below average performances… I could care less if Adu is tweeting in the 50yd line or blowing kisses at girls during a game or just simply punching babies on the sidelines. The fact is Adu gives us something different that no one else on the team can give us…. Technical ability and creating space. Everytime Adu saw time in europe he never disappointed. He has always manage to be better than average…. I don’t care for his DEFENSIVE SKILLS! We have 10 defenders already, we are in need of a person who can actually pass forward not play Urlacher on the 50yd line. His a&& is needed forward not backwards. We are not Argentina or Brazil that has other options, we work with what we have. An Adu is who we have in the creative department. Bien simple.

    Se los dije PAPA!!

  9. Agreed… he isn’t a starter yet… but even if he doesn’t impact the Gold Cup any more, he’s worked hard to get here and has made a big contribution.

    Hopefully, that will give him even futher motivation in his club career.

  10. One thing all the players seem to agree on, and it comes out in Franco’s piece here, is that Bradley holds them to high standards and he communicates clearly what’s expected of them. Freddy had to earn his spot, and the same standards applied to newcomers like Ream and old hands like Donovan and Gooch. This kind of basic foundation makes for good ethics and a good team spirit and it’s probably Bradley’s best quality as coach.

  11. Here is the thing about Adu and pace…he does not have sprinter speed however, with the ball at his feet he is probably one of the quickest…

  12. That was a great play by him. In a short time, he came in and set up the US’ two best scoring chances. That says something.

    He also set up Panama’s best chance with a midfield turnover when he should have let Jones take the ball.

    I remember the old adu, turnovers and bad decisions, and was very nervous that he entered the game. Next time I will be somewhat less nervous, but he is hardly a proven player. The most likely scenario to see him against Mexico is if the US is losing — looking for the offensive spark and not so worried about defensive breakdowns.

  13. I also really like the 4-2-3-1 that we seem to be employing. Bradley IMO is good at adapting his approach to the talent he has, and not trying to mold talent to his approach (i.e. Bruce Arena trying to make LD a center forward or center midfielder, rather than his natural wing position)

  14. Whats the deal with so many of our players giving up the chance to shoot at goal and trying to make an unnecessary extra pass. The last two games alone both Donovan and Bradley passed up on shots in the box???

  15. I thought he was very good. He really brings an element of attacking unpredictability to the game that nobody else brings. he was involved in 10 possessions or so, and contributed positively to just about all of them, 3 or 4 he made really nice plays…. I don’t think he’ll ever be a starter on this team b/c hopefully Stuart Holden plays the #10 position for us when he returns, and he is one of the better players on the team. But, Holden has injury issues, and assumingly will need to be subbed, and also there will be slots needed to fill for other attacking positions. If he keeps getting better and maturing, he’s gonna be right there to be that first or second sub off the bench for the next WC.

  16. I agree with Adu as a sub and he definitely has talent on the ball. But, he does not have pace. He’s pretty slow actually. I don’t know why people sometimes call him fast. Maybe the assumption is that an attacking player must be fast. In Adu’s case, he can pass, receive, dribble, and shoot, but he’s not fast.

  17. The problem is it wan’t an attempt. Bradley passed up a chance to shoot to try and make a cute pass through traffic. And, everybody in America thought that was an awful play.

  18. Well — if you mean his official age — then it’s no problem. He’s well under the age limit of 23. Of course, there are those who insist he’s probably really already that old (or very close to it)

  19. The important thing is he did make that pass, while the rest of the team either didn’t try to make passes like that or didn’t execute them. He might not be Xavi, but he brings a dimension to the team that is largely lacking without him.

  20. Definitely sounds like a player (or two). I agree that it would be nice if someone would fix this article to identify who made these remarks.

  21. Half the people on these message boards seems to not know moderation. Adu is either a complete flop at age of 21 (crazy) or he should be starting after playing 50 club games in 5 years and 1 national team game in 2 (equally crazy). Moderation is the way to go. Bring him along slowly. Let him regain confidence, form, and fitness. Why start him, have you seen him play a full 90? Do we know if he can play defense yet? Also its in the final against Mexico why would we start him. He will and should come on if we are down or looking for a goal late on. Think people, find the middle road more often, it is usually the right one.

  22. Adu is a sub, not a supersub. Donovan could be called a supersub, but adu, a player who has played 1 national team game now in two years and 50 club games in 5 years is not a supersub. Of course I have confidence that he can fulfill some of the potential people saw in him.

  23. Lol “I’m a fan of Freddy, Freddy’s a sexy man. If there’s any soccer player in the world that could have made that pass, it’s Freddy.”

  24. Thats not a basic ball, if it is then we would see it more often. I was more impressed with his play otherwise anyways. His hustle to get the ball back, the turn on the sideline and especially the play to set up bradley. At the same time I dont want to start over hyping him. One game means nothing in the long term, we need to see him play well consistently both for the USA and Club teams so he can become the good player (not great or world class) that I believe he can be and which the USA desperately needs him to be.

  25. and lets not forget the gift he gave Bradley…only for Bradley not to shoot! Adu worked very hard to find space on the wing during that play.


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