Much Adu about nothing

Freddy Adu, once labelled the next “Pele”, set pulses racing when he became the youngest ever athlete to sign a professional sports contract in the USA. At just 14 years of age, he would go on to be the country’s greatest ever footballing export, right?


In fact, the former teenage prodigy fell on such hard times that he was left with no option but to give nightclub promoting a try. Just a few months ago, rather sadly, the 25-year-old was in Ireland, vigorously promoting free shots of Jagermeister and the like. Sylvia Plath couldn’t have depicted a more depressing fall from grace.

With close to a dozen clubs already taking a punt on the alcohol advertiser, Serbian SuperLiga side FC Jagodina were the latest outfit to terminate his contract. Fear not, fans, Freddy Adu has found a new club. Signing for Finnish club Kuopion Palloseura (KuPS), the former USA international must be scratching his head, wondering where it all went wrong.

It’s a difficult one to answer, like being faced with the following question; Would you rather fart popcorn for eternity, or have an alarm go off every time you became aroused?

You see, it’s not easy.

Bursting onto the scene as an exciting teenager, Adu penned a deal with  DC United, but the evolution we all expected just never happened.

Along with a short-lived, utterly unforgettable spell with Bahia in Brazil, the pacey attacking midfielder had trials with Blackpool and AZ Alkmaar in early 2014, but neither club deemed his services necessary.

Last representing the USA back in 2011, the Ghanian-born forward now finds himself in Finland, playing for KuPS. Having finished seventh in the Veikkausliiga last year, the American will be expected to help his latest team compete with stronger, more successful outfits, particularly HJK and SJK.
Just over a decade ago, when Adu was picked first in the 2004 MLS SuperDraft by D.C. United, the teenager was seen as the saviour, a mere child expected to carry the men’s national team to soaring, international heights.

No pressure, Freddy. When you finish playing video games, the American national team needs your help..

In fact, Adu only ever dazzled at one club, D.C. United, and once he left the big smoke, his career faded quicker than laughter at a Dane Cook comedy gig.

During his three years playing in D.C., Adu bagged 11 goals and 17 assists, and was selected for the MLS All-Star team in 2004 and 2006. However, prior to the 2007 season, United decided to trade him for Real Salt Lake goalkeeper, Nick Rimando.
Not many knew it at the time, but Rimando would go to become one the most dependable keepers in MLS history.

Maybe it was the Mormon mentality of Utah, but Adu struggled to make an impact at his new club. Eager to solicit his services, Portuguese side Benfica courted the teenager and decided to bring him over to Europe.

This was seen as the the move to solidify Adu’s status as a top talent, After all, players like Clint Dempsey, DaMarcus Beasley, Brian McBride and Tim Howard had made the move to Europe and performed admirably.

The press expected Adu to arrive on European soil and set the domestic league alight. Again, even at such a tender age, huge expectations were placed on such inexperienced shoulders. Could a young American make a name for himself playing for one of Portugal’s most celebrated clubs?

Sadly for Freddy, although he started strongly, the answer was no. Going on to play for other European clubs like AS Monaco, Belenenses, another Portuguese team, Greek side Aris and Caykur Rizespor of Turkey, the American’s career rapidly nosedived. His confidence was at all time low.

Adu now finds himself playing professional football in his eighth country, and with the Finnish season set to commence in less than two weeks, the pressure is on a player to prove he is not a washed-up has been.

The Francis Jeffers of American football, Freddy never would have envisaged this comparison. Interestingly enough, at just 16 years of age, Jeffers made his debut for Everton in 1997. Instantly hailed as a wonderkid, the English media painted a picture full of possibilities, and this seemed plausible when Jeffers was signed by Arsenal for £8million. But, as you probably know only too well, his status became less impressive as each season passed. Going on to play for Charlton, Sheffield Wednesday, Maltese club Floriana and Accrington Stanley, Franny last played for Brunei DPMM in the Singaporean S League.

As this is a game where redemption is possible, Adu could very well restore some credibility and stability to a career full of disappointments, but will he ever reach the lofty heights we all expected he would?

Computer says NO.