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The Freddy Adu Scouting Report

Some bloke has written us from the US with a Freddy Adu scouting report, he didn’t leave a name so we’ll go with Stars&Stripes. Seems fitting, no?

You may have heard that Freddy Adu will spend two weeks training with Manchester United this month. You may have also heard that he won’t join the Premiership. And then you may have heard that he might after all. You may also have heard that he’s actually like 27 or something.

One thing is for certain, like any good American kid who plays football Freddy Adu has proclaimed to have supported Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea all his life at one point or another in the last few years. Outstanding.

Anyway, I’ve had plenty opportunity to watch Freddy in MLS while exiled here in the US (I’m some sort of postal worker), so to save Freddie the trip and save Fergie the bother, here’s an honest hype-free assessment of the kid.

He’s very good. He really is. But he’s not the player he was hyped up to be. That means he’s not Pele, or Maradona or even Wayne Rooney. He’s a 17/27 year old kid with a lot of talent, and like any 17/27 year old that could still go either way.

PROS:

Adu has a great touch and very quick feet. He’s also got a nice shimmy and change of pace, so when he runs at defenders there’s a genuine danger he’ll go past them, on either side.

Adu also has a sweet left peg and a great eye for a through ball, which he doesn’t always get credit for. His crossing is solid, and he’s getting handy with set pieces. Check out this left footed free kick he scored this season. “Sweet creamery butter” as the commentator says. Classic.

He’s also (finally) learned some positional discipline. This season he’s played mostly right midfield (with a left foot) and has done his share of defensive work. He’s given DC United width down that side, but he’s also been cutting inside fairly effectively.

CONS:

He’s not a great finisher, especially for someone who craves an attacking role. It could be confidence, could be composure, could be he’s just not a natural finisher.

Though his passing is mostly impressive, he has an annoting tendency to play sloppy short balls, as if he’s not really concentrating on the simple stuff. It’s the sort of thing that comes with experience, but doing that in the Prem would be fatal.

He’s only a little fella. Though he’s filling out a bit, he’s still just 5’9 and it’s not all that hard for MLS defenders to knock him off the ball. Premiership defenders will probably flatten him.

He’s not a matchwinner, not yet. Though he can beat a man, he’s not the guy that beats three men and slots it in the bottom corner. Petr Nowak even subbed Adu out of DC United’s MLS Eastern Conference final defeat to New England last weekend when they were chasing the game. Remember when a 16 year old Wayne Rooney scored Everton’s winner against a supposedly unbeatable Arsenal? Adu couldn’t have done that.

Adu is in an odd situation where he’s been made a superstar before he’s ready to live up to it. The reason he’s “Freddy Adu” and all that entails is that Major League Soccer (and people say Americans don’t get irony We have the most ironically titled footy league in the world ) decided back in late 2003, when Freddy was 14 years old, that he was the future of American football. And not the pointy ball version.

The hype that surrounded his “drafting” to DC United (the quotation marks are there because it was all politically pre-arranged for him to go to DC) was a fairly cynical move on MLS’s part to create some buzz around soccer. To Adu’s credit he performed better than most 14 year old kids would have done in his debut 2004 season. Coming off the bench now and again he showed flashes of skill to expectant crowds, but it was still painfully obvious that he was a boy in a man’s league. 2005 saw Adu get slightly more playing time, but also plenty of complaining that not starting was hurting his career.

2006 was the first season Adu had a starting spot at DC United, and he’s performed admirably. But not admirably enough to suggest he’s ready to move on. Players who leave MLS for Europe usually do so after dominating MLS. Carlos Bocanegra for example, was MLS Defender of the year for 2002 and 2003 before joining Fulham in early 2004.

If Adu signed for Man Utd, or any other top tier Premiership team he’d be facing a season of splinters, Reserve team games and League Cup outings (though not this year for United). The best thing for all concerned would be to let Adu spend another season or so in MLS, let him progress to the point where he can dominate that league and then legitimately move to the big time on merit instead of name recognition.