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Adu: “Everyone fighting for their spots” on the 2013 Union


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CHESTER, Pa. — Nineteen points back with only seven games remaining, the playoffs are out of reach for the Philadelphia Union. But that doesn't mean they have nothing left to play for in 2012.

With what is likely to be an active offseason just around the corner, every player on the Union is feeling the pressure to solidify a spot on next year's edition of the franchise.

That's a pressure felt not only by some of the less experienced players on the team. It's also being felt by the seasoned veterans, and that includes the team's only designated player, Freddy Adu.

"It doesn't matter who you are," Adu said after the club's 1-0 home loss to D.C. United on Thursday. "You've got to come out and fight for your spot next year. I've got to earn my spot just like everybody else. That's the way I look at it personally and that's how I'm going to look at it until the end of the season."

Since joining the Union in August 2011, Adu's time with Philadelphia has had its share of ups and downs. In just over a season with the club, Adu has registered five goals and two assists. Many would argue, though, that his assist total would be much higher if the Union could only find a quality striker to finish the chances he creates.

After easing into the club throughout 2011, Adu was expected to have a much more expanded role in this year's Union. For the first few months of the season, he had that role, starting the majority of the team's games through August.

In the last few weeks, though, Adu has been often relegated to a role on the bench, and has only been given a few minutes at the end of games to make an impact. But the 23-year-old midfielder rejects the notion that his importance on the team is decreasing.

"I don't think I would say that my playing time has diminished," Adu said. "The coaching staff had made it clear at the beginning of the week that they were going to give other people a chance. [Coach John Hackworth] has faith in all of the players, and he feels that they can get the job done."

The fact remains, however, that Adu was given a bench role in highly important matches in late August against Real Salt Lake and the Columbus Crew, when Philadelphia were still very much in the playoff race. 

While Adu has struggled at times, he still has shown flashes of the player that many thought he could be when he was a teenage phenom. In an early May contest against the New York Red Bulls, Adu played what may have been the best match of his Union career, but it was cut short by a 43rd-minute red card. While fans have yearned for another performance of that quality by Adu, it has yet to manifest itself.

With only seven games remaining, Adu still has time to return to the form that Union fans know he can exhibit. It's something Adu hopes he can do, because he wants to remain in Philadelphia in the long run.

"I love this team. I love this organization," said Adu. "I want to be a part of this team going into the future. And, you know, you've got to earn your place."

Adu will have his next chance to solidify his long-term role with the Union on Sunday, when Philadelphia host the Houston Dynamo at PPL Park.


What do you think of Adu's time with the Union so far? Will he eventually live up to his role as a designated player, or has he underwhelmed you?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I could score a few goals on Real Madrid or Barca. What’s your point? Freddy was always a good player but never a great player. He enjoyed hype early in his career and has never lived up to it because he was under-reporting his age.

    Not a hater, just a pragmatist. I wish the old man well.

  2. Adu needs to go to a better league where he has players around him that can finish.

    The problem is no one will take a chance on him now. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see Adu at an EPL club?

  3. I had the good pleasure to see Adu play at games & practice. I always got the impression that surrounded with superstars Real Madrid or Barcelona. He’d be amazing.

    He really needs other to finish. Putting him with a weak offensive targets. Helps no one.

    That said, he might become into a solid MLS veteran. True not the superstar flash player. But a CAM, but of course with some weaknesses. He would do great on a loaded side KC, Seattle, NYRB and SJ. And of course, superstar mids, who can make up for his size, speed, etc.

  4. Having creativity and being able to utilize it positively on the field are two very different things and Adu hasn’t figured out how to do the latter. Marfan is way beyond him it this respect. And now that Torres is working his way back from injury, I don’t see him around past this year.

  5. As usual, the mention of Adu brings all sorts of weird creatures out from under rocks. Competing for playing time is a valid concept. Nevertheless, young players don’t learn anything sitting on the bench. And since the reserve league in MLS is beneath laughable, young players in MLS get even less useful experience than comparable players in Europe. Young players need to play regularly in a competitive environment but one in which it is okay to make mistakes (remember these are inexperienced players). MLS needs to develop a meaningful working arrangement with the lower divisions to allow more young players to go out on loan or, perhaps, following the German example, allow MLS reserve teams to play in the lower divisions.

    Given the quality of the rest of the Union’s roster, Hackworth is a moron to not put Adu out there every game all game long — preferably in a position that makes good use of his talents. Only after a good stretch of playing time could we make any real judgments. Frankly I think Hackworth has already decided to trade Adu away in the off season — heaven knows why.

  6. Opta Says: Freddy Adu is tied for fourth in MLS this season with 15 big chances created (only behind Landon Donovan – 18, Felipe and Patrick Nyarko – 17).

    Stats don’t lie….Haters do

    The Union is a bad team. You can’t put that all on Adu.

  7. Build the team around Freddy?

    What proof do you that is would be worth the effort? Is he as good as David Ferreira or Roger Espinoza?

    Freddy is like a AAAA baseball player, too good for the minors but not quite good enough to be consistent in the majors.

    The reason he should not be in MLS is that his contract limits what Philly can do to surround him with the players to take advantage of his skills. If he went to a big club in Mexico, for example, they have the money to absorb his contract and get players to support him.

    But they probably don’t rate him enough to bother.

  8. Adu,in general seems, to be about the same dimensions as when I first saw him at 14 (or whatever age he was)for DC United.

    Lying about his age might have given him an edge when he was signed initially and in those Under whatever tournaments but I have a hard time seeing what advantage it might have given him in MLS or Europe, especially lately, unless he really is 32. I mean it’s not like he was a big guy using his size to pick on little kids. What advantage is he getting from this?

    At this point it certainly seems irrelevant to his current struggles. The notion that he is young and has time to learn sounds good until you realize that he has been a pro for 8 years and basically remains exactly the same player as when he started out. His periods of “improvement” have come when he has gotten really dedicated and focused but it’s not as if he suddenly learned how to run off the ball or figured out how to clog a passing lane.

    He is still the same guy at 22 (or 32 or 42) that he was at 14. Don’t you find that reason enough to feel like the likelihood that the light bulb in his head will go off is maybe very slim?

  9. Adu is a good player…especially by mls standards…nothing more…let’s move on. People need to stop expecting him to be anything beyond good. He developed at a young age and plateaued, happen to lots of players. He will still make club and national team contributions, he just isn’t going to be a huge success at any level.

  10. Adu still shows flashes of brilliance and can pull off some plays that very few players even try. But he still seems lost when he does not have the ball. Some interpret that as laziness, but I think it is an indication that he has no idea were to move to help his teammates when he does not have the ball. Contrast that with a player like Wondo who, even when SJ was in the cellar, is always moving to get into good spots for his teammates. Whether that means moving to receive a pass, pull defenders away or just provide some defensive coverage, that constant motion to a better spot, it is something that Adu so often fails to do as he simply watches the ball and hopes it will find him.

  11. It’s all about the $. He is not a terrible player. But there is nothing I’ve seen this year that even remotely suggests he’s worth an annual salary of $475,884–and his guaranteed compensation figure is almost $600,000. Give me a break. What a waste. And in MLS (especially with an organization like Philly that so far has done things on the cheap) you can’t waste $. Goodbye so long farewell…

  12. You’re seriously naive if you believe there isn’t a good chance that he is really older than just 23…
    I did NOT assert that he was actually 32…..not likely. But the problem of “under reporting of an athlete’s age” is actually a pretty common theme/problem among foreign-born, immigrant athletes. Many minor league baseball scouts estimate that as high as 66% of all central american players in major/minor league baseball have a slight “error” in their “reported age”.
    It is only to their advantage to do so, and this issue was only recently identified as a trending problem by MLB. Many other pro leagues have generally ignored it.
    But, the REAL issue causing Adu’s failure lies between his ears and has little to do with his age, although we may see hsi career end 3-4 years earlier than anticipated….due to him really being 3-4 years older.

  13. Not only do I think that Adu is the kind of player you can build an attack around, I’m actually more convinced of it then I have been for a good long while. I wuld not at all be surprised if we see him work his way back into National Team prominence before the end of next season.

    It’s all gonna depend on one thing though: his service and creativity are consistent as ever, his work ethic and consistency have improved and will hopefully get better.

    Until he starts getting the assists it won’t matter. He need a finishing partner. I was hoping that was going to be Mwanga or Marfan, but neither have panned out for different reasons. If Philly can get a decent 10-15 goal scorer on board that will make everyone on that team more effective, and the person at th etop of that list is Freddy.

    Flash is fast. Real progress is slow. For the first time in a long time, I see Freddy making real progress.

  14. I would argue then that the union’s priority needs to be to get a finisher, not release their most creative player. unless you happen to think that Marfan has more upside? personally i do not, but it’s a fair debate.

    Unless they are going to make a move for a big time DP (think Dwayne DeRosario) getting rid of Adu would either be penny wise pound foolish or just plain dumb.

    my opinon…

  15. Do you REALLY believe that he is only 23??
    He has had a man’s body since he was a “boy” of 16, and looked like much older in the face.
    Him being born from a fmaily who immigrated from a 3rd world country…..all because of his soccer prowess…..only increases the likliehood that his age was “fudged” from the start. (Think Little League World Series — “Danny Almonte”).

  16. I often think he is played out of position on the wing. That is when he drifts in and out of the game. He is a player that needs to be in the center with the ball at his feet. He has shown ability to make the great pass (remember Gold Cup?), and can hold the ball under pressure. How many times in Kingston could the U.S. have used someone that could maintain control of the ball? I agree that his atitude can be awful and that probably holds him back substantially from realizing his true potential.

  17. Yes. He’s been frequently been either absent or a negative on the pitch, picking up ill disciplined cards that you wouldn’t expect from a player with his “experience” abroad. I wish him well and wanted this to work, but he is showing that he can’t carry a team. Philly isn’t the right situation for him unless we bring in more veteran attacking players to carry the load and take the pressure off Freddy.

  18. I’m still a fan. In his brief spell last night he sent in a great ball that two Union players whiffed on. You can give a striker the ball, but you can’t put it in for him. With Brek Shea and Jose Torres underperforming with the Nats, I still hope we see Adu again, this time on the Left. would be fun to see him combining with Fabian Johnson. Aside from Landon (who I would keep on the right), who is so much more deserving than Freddy as a left wing?

  19. He’s been Philly’s best attacking player lol

    As Ives said last night, it’s getting laughable how many great setups he’s delivered to inept Philly forwards to be wasted.

    Would love to have him in Chicago.

  20. I think its pretty simple….he is not that serious about his career, which means he will likely never reach his full potential.

    Which is too bad, because he is pretty gifted.

  21. This guy’s continued lack of success baffles me. Put that with his perpetual reservation in the dog house of every coach he’s ever had despite seeming to say all the right things and you have quite the enigma. Clearly there’s something about him that destroys the confidence of everyone around him. Most of the time, when I catch his games, he’s pretty good and flashes skills you don’t see much in MLS. His work rate and defense don’t seem THAT bad lately, but I guess they must be?


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