By JONATHAN VERA
PASADENA, Calif – On a night when there were few bright spots for the U.S. men's national team in its Gold Cup Final loss to Mexico, perhaps the only true positive was the performance of Freddy Adu.
A surprising selection to the U.S. starting lineup, Adu didn't disappoint, helping set up both of the United States' goals in his first national team start in more than two years.
Adu made his 2011 Gold Cup debut in the semifinal match against Panama coming in as a substitute for Juan Agudelo in the 64th minute. He promptly help set up the eventual game-winning goal, making an impact that led to U.S. coach Bob Bradley giving Adu the start in the Gold Cup final.
"Bob told me to be active and do exactly what I've been doing in training and what I did during the last match,” said Adu. “Just get to the ball to my feet as much as possible and be dangerous while finding space and I was able to do that and create a couple of goals early on.”
Adu took the corner kick Michael Bradley scored on, and he delivered the pass to Clint Dempsey that Dempsey then turned into an assist on Landon Donovan's goal.
“He’s done well since he’s come into camp and you know one thing about him, he wasn’t going to be overwhelmed by the occasion,” Donovan said. “I thought he did a pretty good job. He tired a little bit at the end, but he helped us.”
The loss to Mexico was a tough one to swallow, but the night was bittersweet for the 22 year-old. After years in hiatus from the national team, Adu is happy to be back and hopeful to remain on the squad.
“This was definitely a special night for me, personally it was an amazing feeling,” said a sincere Adu. “Coming into camp after everything that I've been through and just being around the national team again and work my way into the 18 and then on the field.”
“That's something that as a player, you can be proud of, but I didn't do it alone, I had the help of my coaches and teammates who were encouraging me every day."