By THOMAS FLOYD
When Freddy Adu, fresh off a breakthrough performance in the Gold Cup, signed with the Philadelphia Union last month, the 22-year-old playmaker was seen as the key missing cog for a team with lofty playoff aspirations.
But for a player whose club playing time in Europe has been sporadic at best over the past few years, gaining the fitness to contribute on a consistent basis has been a challenge early in his second MLS stint.
Adu took a significant step forward in that regard during Philadelphia's wild 4-4 draw with New England on Wednesday, going the distance while notching his first goal in a Union uniform.
"Honestly, it's great to get out there and score my first goal," Adu said. "However, playing that 90 minutes was huge for me. I want to be out there helping the team. This last stretch of games is huge for us, and I don't want to let my team down."
Said coach Peter Nowak: "I was pleased with his movement all game. He had a big goal to get us back in the game. It was a good day for Freddy. As you saw at the end of game, he was cramping. But as I told you guys, he is still not physically there yet. But we will watch him each day and monitor him and get him stronger and make sure he will recover fully before we throw him back out there."
Here are some more notes from around the Eastern Conference:
With left back Gonzalo Segares suspended due to yellow card accumulation for Chicago's match against the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday, interim coach Frank Klopas is weighing his options on how to fill that gap in the Fire back line.
"We have some different options," Klopas said to ESPN Chicago. "You can put [Dan] Gargan on the left side, you can put Cory [Gibbs', who's played with the national team on the left side when he grew up, as a left back for one game. There's no issue. I think he's more than ready. But you can put Logan [Pause] at right back and put Gargan on that side, you can put Jalil [Anibaba] at right back. … We've been working with different scenarios throughout the week, and we've just got to see what's the best for us for that game."
With a stretch of three games in eight days approaching for Columbus, midfielder Eddie Gaven, out with a leg injury since Aug. 5, is hoping to be back in the lineup for one or two of those matches. For the Crew, his return can't come soon enough.
"He keeps the ball," coach Robert Warzycha said to MLSsoccer.com. "He gets us the fouls in good areas. You have to keep marking him all the time because he is always moving. Eddie is a player who is very consistent and does good things on the field."
With less than two months remaining in the regular season, United has played a league-low 24 matches. Although that number would seem to put D.C. in solid playoff positioning considering the club is only one point out of a wild-card slot despite those games in hand, United isn't taking anything for granted.
"You can always say that we have games in hand, but you have to win those games," midfielder Santino Quaranta said. "I don't care if you have five in hand — you still have to play them and win them."
Centerback Bobby Boswell's suspension for yellow-card accumulation means Houston could very well slide holding midfielder Geoff Cameron into the back linefor this weekend's trip to face Sporting Kansas City. Cameron has played the position extensively in the past, including earlier this season while defenders Jermaine Taylor and Andre Hainault were on Gold Cup duty.
"It depends on how the game goes," coach Dominic Kinnear told the Houston Chronicle. "We've talked about it. We know he can play back there. It definitely makes your team a little more flexible that way."
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
Despite picking up a point on the road against a quality opponent, the Revolution saw its disappointing season only get worse during Wednesday's 4-4 draw against Philadelphia, as New England choked away a 4-1 halftime advantage and moved to 1-7-6 on the road this year.
"We are all questioning each other and trying to find answers right now," captain Shalrie Joseph said. "How we can give up a 4-1 lead is just frustrating. We're not mentally tough and we're not doing the things necessary to hang on to a lead. From my standpoint, we're just a young team and we're not mature enough to hang on to a lead."
NEW YORK RED BULLS
Goalkeeper Frank Rost and forward Luke Rodgers are both hoping to returnto the Red Bulls' starting 11 from long injury layoffs Sept. 17 at FC Dallas, and Rodgers could even see some minutes off the bench for the struggling club Saturday against the Vancouver Whitecaps. For Rost, his time out of the lineup has been especially frustrating when considering he played at least 24 matches in Germany for 13 straight seasons before coming to MLS.
"This is the first time with me. I've never experienced this kind of an injury," Rost said to MLSsoccer.com. "For me, the only thing is that I come back to the team, practice with the team, and hopefully we win some matches."
SPORTING KANSAS CITY
After injuries largely derailed Chance Myers' first two MLS seasons, the former No. 1 overall pick has found a home at right back for Kansas City in 2011, having started 17 of his club's past 19 league matches.
"It's a combination of things all happening at one time," coach Peter Vermes told the Kansas City Star. "He's gotten stronger, and soccerwise, he's really in form. Throw all those things together, and it equals out to a consistent performance week after week."
Striker Danny Koevermans could return for Toronto on Saturday against the Columbus Crew after sitting out since Aug. 18 with a hamstring ailment. His return would be a big boost for Toronto, as the summer Designated Player signing scored three goals in his first five league matches before the injury.
"I had a session today and it went fine," Koevermans said to MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday. "I'll get better [Thursday] and so much better Friday, and hopefully I'll be there Saturday."
good jeremey… shut it… no one is more uncomfortable to be around than an annoying christian.
there’s nothing like games, but what you suggest helps of course
i’m also a member of camp Freddy
mike’s a buddhist. if he had said “effing Buddha man, that philly team sure can squander”, then that would’ve been taking his lord’s name in vain.
If it was that easy then everyone would be a pro athlete. If you train at that high of a level of fitness, and even miss 1 week, it can adversely affect you. Training every day is not like playing in a game. And when you are bouncing around clubs and not getting regular playing time, it affects fitness.
Have you even played soccer before? It is extremely tiring. You are acting as if it’s a walk in the park.
A none fit Freedy freaking ADU is still better than 100% fit MLS players.lol
My boy is bench all the time having only an Xbox as his training wheel, then he finally sees minutes, and yet he still is the best player on the pitch!lol
I hope by boy Adu never gets fit, otherwise he might just get arrested for being too damn good. 🙂
Adu says, playing time is overrated!
language! Thou shalt not take the name of thy Lord in vain.
You’d think one could do an aerobic training regimen to replicate that.
All I’m saying is that if I were a professional athlete, I’d be able to play back to back games every day. Bunch of wusses…
wrote that I only saw the highlights. I said that in earlier thread, too — wherein I noted that I read comments in the game thread about how good he was looking. I was merely noting that Nowak’s comments shed light on what I had previously noted about the highlights.
As for watching the game — I didn’t have a chance to do that.
Fischy- something stinks here. You’re doubling up- trolling with weak bait. It isn’t the catch bucket that is foul here…. Watch the game instead of just the highlights, you might be more insightful then.
BINGO! we’ve got a winner.
Movement isn’t always about moving fast. Watch the first Philly goal and look at what Adu does. His movement pulls the defender out enough to create space for the pass to Torres. It also allowed for another pass option if necessary. He was doing things like that a bunch in the game.
If you watched the game, you would have seen him running all over the place the whole game. The highlights don’t do justice to how fast that game was.
Professional athletes are only fully fit to their standards by playing games and getting more and more stamina. As you saw, he was sprint all over the field for the whole game.
Freddy was cramping up and out of gas, huh? I guess that explains what I saw on the highlights. He seemed to be a statue on the last goals, while his teammates were fighting for the ball or for space. I’d like to watch more of the game, to see what Nowak was talking about with respect to Freddy’s movement. Count me in the camp that thinks Freddy still has a chance to be a great player, so I’m always looking for the hopeful stuff. I was struck by how he was just standing around and watching the play, but I guess Nowak noticed it, too — and he isn’t troubled by it, for reasons he explained.
How is Adu not fit yet? Is he not a professional athlete and this is his job? Was he injuired?
That game was entertaining b/c of all the goals, but Jesus, what poor quality finishing. I mean there was opportunity after opportunity squandered by Philly b/c they lack the skill to put the ball on frame.
Freddy looked pretty good. He did get tired. He can sure hold the ball very well. Once he has it he hardly ever loses it.
Freddy looked good but if it weren’t for Steve Nicol’s bad decision to bunker at the 60 minute mark, Philly would have lost big.
If Freddy is that effective out of fitness… 🙂