Much Adu About Something

Wednesday, May 25, 2011 | View Comments
You're not a real soccer writer until you've used that pun in the title.

- Keith Hickey

Coach Sweats has released his roster for the USMNT's friendly with Spain and the 2011 Gold Cup, and while most of the group was as expected, there are a couple of selections and omissions that raised some eyebrows. The most notable inclusion was that of the former child prodigy himself, Mr. Freddy Adu.

While I was initially incredulous, I've decided that I'm willing to give Bradley and Adu the benefit of the doubt. While it certainly seems like he's been around forever, Adu is still just a 21 year-old, albeit a 21 year-old with the better part of a decade's worth of professional soccer under his belt.

I've never seen a Turkish second division game, so I can't comment on the quality of play, but apparently Freddy has been able to hold his own with Rizespor. If that's good enough for Bob, and maybe if he wants to offer an undoubtedly gifted young player a lifeline back onto the national scene, the call-up makes sense.

It's easy to forget Adu's relative youth. He's been around for what seems like eons, and had plenty of chances and second chances to prove himself at the senior level. Was his career mis-handled? Did he jump to the professional game and then Europe before he was really ready? Possibly and probably on both accounts. But in this country, many soccer players don't even start their pro careers until they've reached his age. Most don't have his talent, and none have his experience. Hopefully, his troubles in Europe have made him a wiser person and a more humble player.

If we're lucky, then perhaps Adu can use this place in the squad as a platform to push himself, if not to the stardom the American soccer public once imagined would be his, then into a situation where he can contribute to a club and his country.

The rest of the more unexpected inclusions and omissions can be explained away. Brad Guzan, who would have been the backup anyway, is getting married. Timmy Chandler is nursing minor injuries and is still trying to establish himself as first choice with Nuremburg, who would hardly look kindly on a player who needs to rest jetting off across the Atlantic to fight with Eric Lichaj for the honor of being Steve Cherundolo's backup. Rico Clark is a victim of the US's depth at defensive midfield. Sacha Kljestan is one of Bradley's "guys." Like it or not, every coach has them (admittedly, Bradley more than most), and in all likelihood, he won't be starting. Teal Bunbury is still a young player trying to establish himself as a top-level striker in MLS, while Chris Wondowloski is a veteran who has already done so.

Is this the roster everyone would have chosen for the Gold Cup? Probably not. But we'll probably see most of the regular cast, with contributions from promising players like Juan Agudelo, and Tim Ream. If Bob loses the competition, then we can get the claws out. If he wins, nobody will care who was in the squad.
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