Adu delivers for USMNT after two-year absence

Freddy Adu 1 (Getty Images)

 

By FRANCO PANIZO

HOUSTON, Texas – Freddy Adu won't take it for granted. Not anymore.

After a near two-year hiatus, Adu made his return to the U.S. men's national team as second-half substitute in its Gold Cup semifinals match against Panama on Wednesday night at Reliant Stadium. It was the first time since a Gold Cup group stage match against Honduras on July 8, 2009 that Adu had played for the United States, and a moment he had long waited and worked hard for.

"I haven't stepped on the field for the national team in two years," said Adu. "To get a chance to be out there, I was very happy and fortunate and I just wanted to reward the coach's faith in me."

He accomplished that and maybe more as he helped create the lone goal in a tight contest against a Panamanian team that had been denying the Americans any clear looks on goals with physical and disciplined defending.

11 minutes after stepping onto the field and following a play in which the U.S. team played the ball well out of its back, Adu received a pass near midfield before unleashing a picture-perfect through ball that found fellow substitute Landon Donovan on the right flank in the 77th minute. Donovan took a couple of touches and then unleashed a driven cross that Clint Dempsey tapped home from close range.

Just like that, the Americans were looking at a place in the finals. And just like that, Adu had made an impact during a time when many questioned his inclusion on the U.S. roster.

""From the start of this camp, Freddy's made progress and so the opportunity tonight was earned on his part," said head coach Bob Bradley. "You could see him getting sharper. You could see confidence coming back. We had him on the bench the other day (versus Jamaica) with the thought that he could come in at a certain point and help. I thought the timing for tonight worked and again he was a nice part of the play that led to the goal and it's important for him. He's earned his way. He earned this opportunity."

Bradley also pointed out during his post-game press conference that Adu is a more mature player and person than he was a couple years ago, as he entered this summer's camp with a more professional approach. Bradley also gave respect to one of Adu's most recent decisions.

"When you see a player that goes to the second division in Turkey to keep things going in his career, that tells you something," said Bradley. "You can tell that when he got a chance in this camp, he appreciated it. He certainly had, when I say he's matured, it shows in the way he comes in, in the way he acts, in the way he trains, he knows what's expected.

"I said it earlier, actually I didn't say this part: He didn't start out this camp great. There were days early on where regaining confidence, the speed sometimes in training, there were a lot of days that didn't go great. But you could see over time that it was starting to get better and better and we feel like when we have a chance to have our group together for three weeks, four weeks, that you see this, and that's a good sign."

Adu's teammates said similar things after the game, with Donovan even saying that Bradley "certainly stuck his neck out by bringing him here and Freddy wants to reward him." 

That mission was accomplished, and Adu's message after the game was clear: he truly appreciated and enjoyed being back in the national team picture, having been forced to watch for nearly two years as he tried to sort things out at the club level.

"In a lot of different ways I took it for granted before," said Adu. "When you haven't been here for a while and you get a chance to be here, you really appreciate just being around the guys and just being on a national team and just knowing you really have to earn it, you really do. But once you get in, you have to keep working hard and keep getting better to get a chance to play."

Adu made it count when he got his chance, and although he didn't score the goal or deliver the assist, his role in the play that led up to Dempsey's finish was equally as important.

That's not to say that Adu is ready for a starting spot already. But it's also not to say that teammates like Tim Howard don't appreciate what the small but gifted attacker brings to the table.

"I love Freddy, I'm a fan of Freddy," said Howard. "He's a different type of player. He brings things to the team that not a lot of players can do. He's got God-given ability that can't be taught. Tonight was an example of that. He played unselfishly, passed the ball, the weight of his passes are crisp and clean, the right weight, and he can take people on. He's very good.

"I was glad to see him back. He's been eager, he's been chomping at the bit, he's been patient, he's been humble. It was good to see him put in a performance like that because it's important for us – it's important for him, but important for us."

As good as he is, Adu was one of the more questioned selections when Bradley announced his roster for the Gold Cup. But Bradley saw it was a reward for Adu's hard work, and although Adu didn't know whether or not he'd play, he was ready to seize the moment if it ever came.

"Mentally, you always have to be prepared because you never know when you're going to be thrown in," said Adu. "It's been a long road back to actually playing for the national team again, and you really have to be prepared if you get that chance to be out on the field. You want to be here, you want to represent your country. This is a level that you want to play at."

Adu won't take take the national team for granted. Not anymore.

This entry was posted in CONCACAF Gold Cup, U.S. Men's National Team. Bookmark the permalink.

96 Responses to Adu delivers for USMNT after two-year absence

  1. aiden says:

    Glad to see Freddy maturing.

    Let’s be real people, he’s only 20!

  2. aiden says:

    I meant 22 :)

  3. Dave says:

    The last 3 paragraphs are quotes but I cannot see who they are attributed to. sorry If I missed that but I would like to know if that is a teammate or Bradley. Thanks.

  4. maka says:

    It’s a long road that isn’t over yet. He needs to keep working hard. I hope he will.

  5. John says:

    He picked up his head and opened the field to a wide open Donovan on the flank. Pretty basic stuff. Let’s not compare him to Xavi yet.

  6. glad says:

    I heard a rumor about Adu going to the Galaxy last year. Maybe those rumors should re-surface and become a reality.

  7. Brad says:

    You got to give Bob credit for putting him in. Maybe the guy knows more than us about how to manage the team…?

  8. jonk says:

    +1, i was wondering that, too

  9. stellarcaster on twitter says:

    freddy made a huge impact on this game. i say donovan needs to start v mexico and freddy ahould be the super-sub

  10. HoboMike says:

    He let the ball roll across his body before hitting a cross-field, inch-perfect pass,while leaning the other way, that bent around the defender and landed perfectly for Donovan to corral. If you can’t see the skill in that, then you’re hopeless.

    And no one is comparing him to anyone. USMNT fans have always said that he’s had a ridiculous amount of skill but were frustrated. His inclusion into a very important game after a 2 year hiatus led directly to the game’s only goal. Singing his praises are justified.

  11. malkin says:

    my thoughts exactly. The quotes immediately prior are from Adu himself, so that doesn’t resolve it.

  12. HoboMike says:

    Agreed. Straight swap – Donovan for Kljestan.

    The added benefit is that Donovan, Dempsey, and Bedoya are all interchangeable. If I were Bradley, I’d tell them to change positions every 5 minutes. It will be very hard to keep track of whom.

  13. Tony in Quakleand says:

    Yet it happens how often? And how often is it weighted that perfectly?

  14. malkin says:

    I also just clicked on ad, so I don’t feel bad forcing Franco to clean up his piece (instead of me looking it up myslef)

    :)

  15. RNG says:

    +2– Attribution please….

  16. JJ's shin says:

    No matter what we’ve all said about Adu in the last few years, he showed last night that he’s still an exciting player. You could feel the anticipation of him stepping on the field last night even just watching it on tv. I’m not trying to re-crown him the savior of U.S. soccer, but it’s not too late for him to become what everyone thought he was going to be.

  17. solles says:

    yah no kidding…

  18. Since 82 says:

    Adu should start against Mexico. This is the lineup I would like to see:

    Dempsey
    Bedoya – Jones – Adu – Bradley – Donovan
    Lichaj – Bocanegra – Goodsen – Cherundolo

    I haven’t seen enough from Agudelo to merit the start. Dempsey has been active around the net the entire tournament. We need Adu’s creativity in the middle sans Holden and not playing 4 4 2.

    Bring Agudelo or Edu on as needed.

  19. ray says:

    Who said that last quote?

  20. kevin says:

    Nobody compaired him to anyone….

  21. Mark says:

    Yeah, who said these things?

  22. brian says:

    I dont think anyone even came close to saying something like that but u have to be honest, Freddie has the talent and skill level with the ball at his feet that most American players even stalwarts on our national team cant even compete with.

    The great thing is we are starting to see 2,3, even 4 players with that kind of skill on the same US youth teams every year.

  23. HoboMike says:

    Not quite sure Adu can go the full 90, and Agudelo’s movement will be key – Mexico’s center backs have lost a step.

  24. Kevin says:

    Nobody compaired him to anyone little Johnny….

  25. Confused says:

    Yeah, it’s totally unclear who to attribute the quote to. I would assume Bob, given that the majority of the quotes are from him. It sort of sounds like his speech pattern, but the part about loving Freddy and being a fan don’t sound like typical public Bob. So I’m not sure.

  26. strider says:

    +1 I have always thought that the man on the scene (the Bob) sees a lot that we don’t and then all of us try to second guess him based on inuendo and rumor. Nothing can replace seeing the guys work in practice to know who is ready for what.

    Although the team is still not playing great, they have improved and have a shot at the title. Mexico may have more talent than us right now, but talent isn’t everything. Let’s get after them and win this thing.

    Go USA!!

  27. Omar Little says:

    All the comments about him maturing and all that just makes me laugh thinking about how much of a self centered D*CK he probably was 3-4 years ago.

    Better late than never. Kid still has the kind of natural ability few Americans possess and he is still has plenty of time to carve out a nice little career for himself.

  28. jb says:

    It appeared basic but it showed a vision few of even our top players have, and the weight and placement of the pass was absolutely perfect and thats something even our best players have struggled with. I’m not a fanboy, and still don’t believe he’s a starter. But he has skills that are unique among the USMNT and if he keeps his head on straight can be an asset to the team.

  29. Benny says:

    I agree. I think Donovan starts. Donovan will have fresh legs and that’s what the U.S. needs against a Mexico side that just had a nasty battle with Honduras,plus an extra 30 minutes.

  30. Justin Roelant says:

    I would use Adu in the same capacity that he was used tonight. A 70min sub or so. He has pace and talent on the ball that could be most utilized against a slightly more tired Mexican defense, and I’m not sure he can go at that speed for a full 90 yet…Just don’t know. I would definitely like to see him utilized as a super-sub again though.

  31. kawininjazx7@yahoo.com says:

    I was very excited to see Adu getting in there. That was a great pass by him to LD to start off the play of goal. He played well. Still trying to do too much though.

  32. jb says:

    I’d prefer Donovan out wide. For whatever reason he seems lost in the middle of the field and can’t find the ball. Either Dempsey or Bedoya in the middle, with the interchanging. Let Donovan do his attacking from the flank.

  33. aiden says:

    No way. Sit Adu and start Juan up top with Dempsey.

    Adu played well, but he’s not ready for the 90, let alone the 90 aganist MExico.

  34. Since 82 says:

    I don’t think he can go the full 90, but I would rather dictate pace and tempo than wait to have it handed to us. The alternative is yesterday’s which maintained possession, but struggled to be dangerous moving forward.

    I don’t see Agudelo (nor Altidore for that matter) as a lone striker. I think our immediate future will feature Holden with five mids and Altidore up top with Adu coming on late.

    I could see us reverting to a 4 4 2 closer to WC as Dempsey and Donovan age and hopefully Adu, Agudelo, and Altidore grow.

  35. Juan says:

    poor journalism here

  36. Since 82 says:

    We will not play a 4-4-2 against Mexico. Therefore, that means you are most likely sitting Adu for Sascha. My point is, why would one do that exactly?

    I’m willing to bet that Dempey starts up top eithe way.

  37. Aaron in StL says:

    I’m assuming it’s Freddy speaking in 3rd person…

  38. strider says:

    This is a bit off-thread, but did anyone else have trouble with Fox Soccer last night? It was the only channel on my Comcast package that would not work. I just got a message saying the channel “Would be available soon.” So, I did not get to watch the match. What a drag!

  39. Michael F. SBI Mafia Original says:

    Couldn’t be happier for Freddy. No 14 year old kid could handle the hype and expectations heaped on him. He is 22 and exactly where he deserves to be. Earning consistent time with his club team, earning his shot with the USMN team and earning time on the field in the Gold Cup. Here’s to hoping there’s more from where that came from…for his sake and for ours. Cheers, Feddy. Onward and upward…never give up…

  40. Pedrinho says:

    “Franco, what the hell bro?!”…

  41. Clevelandfc says:

    It was good to see him. I thought he was nervous at first but then you could see his play Improve

  42. partnerincrime says:

    good for freddy

  43. TJPierce says:

    I agree with Donovan on the wing. Hasn’t Bedoya been playing centrally for his club this year? Maybe try giving him the keys, since SK wasn’t getting it done.

  44. Tom G says:

    Hi Ives,

    Make sure to proof your Fox article with the player ratings: you rated Donovan twice with Goodson not mentioned

  45. morton says:

    when is the cut off for the olympics? will he be eligible?

  46. This was great to see. His ball to Donovan was sublime. It’s better each time I watch the replay. The only thing that could make it better would be if it were accompanied by that Turkish house music that plays during all the Rizepor highlights.

    The 4-2-3-1 formation, Adu’s continued maturity, and the jamming of the Turkish house music seem to be just what Adu needed to get himself back into the USMNT picture.

  47. JamesC says:

    This is a blog. It values timeliness and relevance to the blogs topic. Sometimes the articles will have errors and seem hastly written. If you want to read a polished article then go to the Fox Soccer website.

  48. Standard_Deviance says:

    I didn’t last night, but I have Verizon and for a period of several weeks I would sometimes get a message that I wasn’t subscribed to FSC (when in fact I was). Eventually it was determined to be a problem with my cable box. Got a new box and now it works fine.

  49. JamesC says:

    Everyone needs a little Turkish house music now and again.

  50. tom says:

    First Adu comment in only 4 minutes ;)

  51. DC Josh says:

    The US could win the World Cup and you would still write it off as luck.

  52. AME says:

    I tried to google it and the only place it came up was SBI. I would be nice to know who said it.

  53. jonk says:

    The very last paragraph is from Adu himself. No idea about the 2 paragraphs above it, though.

  54. bryan says:

    and lets not forget the gift he gave Bradley…only for Bradley not to shoot! Adu worked very hard to find space on the wing during that play.

  55. john.q says:

    you guys missed it. it was Messi. he loves Adu.

  56. Jamie says:

    I thought I was the only one bothered by Bradleys poor attempt on that.

  57. colin says:

    Thats not a basic ball, if it is then we would see it more often. I was more impressed with his play otherwise anyways. His hustle to get the ball back, the turn on the sideline and especially the play to set up bradley. At the same time I dont want to start over hyping him. One game means nothing in the long term, we need to see him play well consistently both for the USA and Club teams so he can become the good player (not great or world class) that I believe he can be and which the USA desperately needs him to be.

  58. Robert Daniels says:

    Lol “I’m a fan of Freddy, Freddy’s a sexy man. If there’s any soccer player in the world that could have made that pass, it’s Freddy.”

  59. colin says:

    Adu is a sub, not a supersub. Donovan could be called a supersub, but adu, a player who has played 1 national team game now in two years and 50 club games in 5 years is not a supersub. Of course I have confidence that he can fulfill some of the potential people saw in him.

  60. J says:

    I will add my voice to the choir wanting to know who was being quoted there.

  61. colin says:

    Half the people on these message boards seems to not know moderation. Adu is either a complete flop at age of 21 (crazy) or he should be starting after playing 50 club games in 5 years and 1 national team game in 2 (equally crazy). Moderation is the way to go. Bring him along slowly. Let him regain confidence, form, and fitness. Why start him, have you seen him play a full 90? Do we know if he can play defense yet? Also its in the final against Mexico why would we start him. He will and should come on if we are down or looking for a goal late on. Think people, find the middle road more often, it is usually the right one.

  62. fischy says:

    Or, somewhere in the ballpark…. The important thing is he’ll be young enough to qualify for the Olympic team.

  63. fischy says:

    Definitely sounds like a player (or two). I agree that it would be nice if someone would fix this article to identify who made these remarks.

  64. fischy says:

    The important thing is he did make that pass, while the rest of the team either didn’t try to make passes like that or didn’t execute them. He might not be Xavi, but he brings a dimension to the team that is largely lacking without him.

  65. fischy says:

    Well — if you mean his official age — then it’s no problem. He’s well under the age limit of 23. Of course, there are those who insist he’s probably really already that old (or very close to it)

  66. fischy says:

    The problem is it wan’t an attempt. Bradley passed up a chance to shoot to try and make a cute pass through traffic. And, everybody in America thought that was an awful play.

  67. phillypride says:

    I agree with Adu as a sub and he definitely has talent on the ball. But, he does not have pace. He’s pretty slow actually. I don’t know why people sometimes call him fast. Maybe the assumption is that an attacking player must be fast. In Adu’s case, he can pass, receive, dribble, and shoot, but he’s not fast.

  68. jpc says:

    I thought he was very good. He really brings an element of attacking unpredictability to the game that nobody else brings. he was involved in 10 possessions or so, and contributed positively to just about all of them, 3 or 4 he made really nice plays…. I don’t think he’ll ever be a starter on this team b/c hopefully Stuart Holden plays the #10 position for us when he returns, and he is one of the better players on the team. But, Holden has injury issues, and assumingly will need to be subbed, and also there will be slots needed to fill for other attacking positions. If he keeps getting better and maturing, he’s gonna be right there to be that first or second sub off the bench for the next WC.

  69. AJ says:

    Whats the deal with so many of our players giving up the chance to shoot at goal and trying to make an unnecessary extra pass. The last two games alone both Donovan and Bradley passed up on shots in the box???

  70. Texas 1836 says:

    Franco,

    Who is quoted in the the last 3 paragraphs? Is that Bradley?

  71. jpc says:

    I also really like the 4-2-3-1 that we seem to be employing. Bradley IMO is good at adapting his approach to the talent he has, and not trying to mold talent to his approach (i.e. Bruce Arena trying to make LD a center forward or center midfielder, rather than his natural wing position)

  72. hot rod says:

    maybe franco is quoting himself??

  73. Ben says:

    That was a great play by him. In a short time, he came in and set up the US’ two best scoring chances. That says something.

    He also set up Panama’s best chance with a midfield turnover when he should have let Jones take the ball.

    I remember the old adu, turnovers and bad decisions, and was very nervous that he entered the game. Next time I will be somewhat less nervous, but he is hardly a proven player. The most likely scenario to see him against Mexico is if the US is losing — looking for the offensive spark and not so worried about defensive breakdowns.

  74. Colin says:

    It was actually Sepp Blatter. Franco has spent the last 6 hours translating it from LOLcat to English.

  75. primoone says:

    kkk?

    good grief…

  76. primoone says:

    Here is the thing about Adu and pace…he does not have sprinter speed however, with the ball at his feet he is probably one of the quickest…

  77. Detroit! says:

    One thing all the players seem to agree on, and it comes out in Franco’s piece here, is that Bradley holds them to high standards and he communicates clearly what’s expected of them. Freddy had to earn his spot, and the same standards applied to newcomers like Ream and old hands like Donovan and Gooch. This kind of basic foundation makes for good ethics and a good team spirit and it’s probably Bradley’s best quality as coach.

  78. wides in MN says:

    Agreed… he isn’t a starter yet… but even if he doesn’t impact the Gold Cup any more, he’s worked hard to get here and has made a big contribution.

    Hopefully, that will give him even futher motivation in his club career.

  79. luis says:

    +1 totally agree

  80. CrispyST3 says:

    No i think that Jones and Adu crashed into each other accidentally

  81. KEEP says:

    Tim Howard

  82. Hush says:

    I love it when I’m right. I said numerous times, I rather have a bench warming player on the USMNT who brings a different element to our game, than bringing Rogers,Sasha,Wondo, Casey,finly,buddle,Cooper and get below average performances… I could care less if Adu is tweeting in the 50yd line or blowing kisses at girls during a game or just simply punching babies on the sidelines. The fact is Adu gives us something different that no one else on the team can give us…. Technical ability and creating space. Everytime Adu saw time in europe he never disappointed. He has always manage to be better than average…. I don’t care for his DEFENSIVE SKILLS! We have 10 defenders already, we are in need of a person who can actually pass forward not play Urlacher on the 50yd line. His a&& is needed forward not backwards. We are not Argentina or Brazil that has other options, we work with what we have. An Adu is who we have in the creative department. Bien simple.

    Se los dije PAPA!!

  83. DingDong says:

    If this US team won the World Cup, it would take an awful lot of luck. :)

  84. brian says:

    I love when people like to pick one or 2 plays when he turned the ball over to try and put him down. Every player in the world turns the ball over and is guilty for trying to do to much even Messi and Xavi. The only time he really turned it over in his own half which is when it’s a real problem, he wasnt trying to do to much like other people said Jones kinda ran him over causing him to lose the ball.

    If that one mistake is enough to condemn his overall good performance then M. Bradley should never see the field again with the amount of times his slow bordeline clumsy feet gets stripped in his own half.

  85. GW says:

    “The important thing is he did make that pass, while the rest of the team either didn’t try to make passes like that or didn’t execute them.”

    That’s a silly thing to say.

    You forget it’s a team game.

    Opportunities for plays like that, involving not just Adu, but Bradley,Adu, Donovan, and Dempsey plus the “cooperation” of the Panamanians sometimes happens only once a game.

    Every one of those guys has to do their part and if they don’t, there is no goal and no discussion.

    If DC United bought Xavi he’d make them better but they still would not be Barca.

  86. GW says:

    Why fix it if it ain’t broke?

    How much of a lift is it knowing one of your all time best is going to give you a lift in the second half? Besides I think he’s injured as he still doesn’t have his speed back. Donovan is one of the most honest interviews out there so it wil be interesting to see what he says after the final.

    Mexico were brutalized by a very tough diciplined, powerful Honduras who would have won the game if they had Howard or even Hahnemann. Mexico were clearly tired and now Guardado and Salcido are injured and questionable.

    I have no problem starting Donovan but I’d rather keep him in reserve to finish off the Mexicans in the second half.

    What should be clear to everyone is BB seems to have a pretty good feel for the pulse of this bunch since he’s pulled a whole lot of positive moves I’m pretty sure none of you would have expected.

  87. Sonicdeathmonkey says:

    Everyone in America…..excepty for Ives. ;)

  88. biff says:

    Hey Freddy, the new Sport Director of Hamburg SV, Frank Arnesen, formerly of Chelsea, said today in a German newspaper interview that he is actively seeking a “creative” Number 10 middle fielder to make things happen. HSV after a disappointing season with highly paid flops has axed a lot of older players and is now focusing on developing young players with big potential. I think your agent, Freddy, should give Frank a telephone call :-)

  89. Hector says:

    if you take the time to actually read the article the last paragraph from the last starts off with a quote then SAID HOWARD (COMMA-meaning the quotation goes on)…the last paragraph starts out with a quote then: SAID ADU (COMMA).

    try reading articles instead of skimming them guys.

  90. Hector says:

    fourth paragraph from the last**

  91. Peter says:

    yes loves Ives but in his eyes mb does no wrong

  92. FoldNECrew&Quakes says:

    just 94 comments? i thought freddy had like 500k twitter followers, one of the highest for a soccer player.what gives? are those numbers like his age and Dallas FC attendance numbers highly inflated?

  93. FoldNECrew&Quakes says:

    turkish house music sucks. Mali is where its at these days, especially for the cultured worldly minded and intelligent crowd.