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  • Transfer Talk: The Miseducation of Freddy Adu


    ccs-54-14026400713_thumb.jpgThe career of Freddy Adu is a cautionary tale for to all up-and-coming soccer stars out there.

    Once hyped as "The American Pele", the former teen phenom has completely fallen off the radar, the result of hugely unrealistic expectations completely obliterating any hope of a successful career.

    Washed up at 21-years-old*, Adu is still slugging away with hopes of making it in Europe, this time trialing at 2. Bundesliga side Ingolstadt.

    Hey, you can't blame the kid for trying.


    So how exactly did Freddy get to this point? I mean, there is little doubt that Adu is a good talent, if not even a great one.

    For those who are skeptical, just think back to his dominating performances at the FIFA U-20 World Cup here in Canada nearly four years ago. An 18-year-old Freddy Adu, along with his co-star Jozy Altidore, ran roughshod over opponents that included the likes of

    and Poland.

    Freddy and Jozy followed their global coming out party with another solid overall performance nearly a year later in Olympic qualifying, helping the Americans U-23 side into the Beijing Summer Games.

    And while Altidore has gone on to become a stalwart on the full U.S. national side, Adu has totally disappeared from the international scene. All the while, he has bounced from club to club looking for playing time, a tragic chapter in what was supposed to be a great American success story.

    It's not hard to see where it all went wrong for Freddy Adu. Drafted in 2004 by DC United as a 14-year-old, he was overpaid and overhyped when compared to his contributions on the field.

    At a time when he should have been testing himself in the youth system of a highly-touted European side, Adu was wasting away in Major League Soccer, an extremely skilled boy - barely into his teen years - competing against fully grown men twice his age or more.

    And while he certainly created tons of publicity for a league that so sorely needed it, his game was stagnating. Adu spent too much time on 60 Minutes and the late night talk show circuit instead of focusing on his considerable natural gifts.

    Despite all of this, he could still play, as evidenced by the 2007 U-20's. He was that good.

    The real problem, in my opinion, was that he started to believe the hype. It must have been hard not to, when an entire league, nay, an entire soccer culture had already crowned him as King.

    For someone who had literally grown up receiving nothing but adulation from everyone related to soccer in his home nation, it must have been one hell of a culture shock when Adu headed over to Europe to pursue his dream, and instead of being handed everything on a platter as he was used to, he was expected to compete for a spot - against guys who had done nothing but compete for spot their whole footballing lives.

    He never really had a chance.

    Even after all of this, Freddy can still be a success. He's only 21, and he has now seen both the highs and lows of his chosen profession quite intimately.

    If he wants to become the Freddy Adu that everyone thought he would be, he's going to have to do something that he hasn't really seemed willing to do up to this point. He's going to have to work for it.

    * I'm not getting into the age debate here, so don't bother

    Some other transfer talk from around Europe on Friday:




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