Back in 2004 there was a lot of noise from America, as D.C. United had signed an unknown 14-year-old in the MLS Super Draft. Fast forward three months and the same young player made his debut, becoming the youngest ever to play in the MLS. Two weeks later, another record broken as he became the youngest ever player to score in the MLS.
Here was a player who was already being touted as a United States future star. Mentions of being the next Pele seemed farfetched, but for those that had watched him he seemed the real deal.
Yet for a player that had the world at his feet, young Fredua Koranteng Adu became a journeyman of the footballing world. For those with a Football Manager background this name will mean a lot. For those who haven’t played the game, this is the story of potential super star and his dramatic fall. The young American was Freddy Adu.
In his first season, he appeared in all 30 games for D.C. United, although many were as a substitute, but as first seasons go it was a decent start. His second season he was even invited over for a trial with Manchester United, although they decided not to take on the young American.
That season however, Adu started in majority of the games for D.C. United with Adu now playing in midfield. At the end of the season he was traded to Real Salt Lake. Then, after three seasons in the MLS and having scored 11 in 87 appearances for D.C. United and 1 goal in 11 for Real Salt Lake, Benfica secured the rights from the MLS for a fee of 2 million dollars in 2007.
Finally, Adu had his big money move to Europe, albeit in the Portuguese league. Benfica were playing Champions League football, which was Adu’s dream. and he made his debut against Copenhagen in the qualifying match.
The move soon turned sour as the following season Adu was loaned out to Monaco, the French Ligue 1 club. Monaco had the option to buy him at the end of the season long loan, but Monaco turned down the chance to sign him.
Next came another season loan to Portuguese club Belenenses. Adu got injured on his first league start they quickly ended his season long loan. In 2010 another season loan came about, this time to Greek side Aris. Adu played 5 times and scored once during his time in Greece but the season didn’t work out well.
His final year with Benfica was again spent on loan, this time with Turkish second division club Caykur Rizespor where Adu played between the first team and the second team. Again, he returned to Benfica, who had seen enough.
In August 2011 he was back playing in the MLS, as he signed for Philadelphia Union. After two season,s having scored only 7 times in 35 matches, he found himself in a swap deal. Kleberson moved to Philadelphia Union and Adu moved to Brazilian club Bahia. He lasted 7 months before being released by the club.
Then came trials all over Europe for Freddy. In 2014 he even started training with Blackpool, however he failed to impress the club and they decided against offering him a contract.
Adu finally signed for Jagodina on a 6 month contract. After one appearance, the Serbian club decided not to renew his contract. Next came KuPS in 2015, he lasted 4 months before leaving the club.
His final club was Tampa Bay Rowdies. Adu played for the Rowdies for two seasons in the North American Soccer League. His contract expired in December 2016 with Adu citing to be sorting things out and hoping to take the next step soon.
More recently however he had a trial with Portland Timbers in 2017 but once again a contract failed to materialize, apparently he had not done enough to warrant a contract.
Adu is the first to admit he never dedicated his time to the sport. He openly admits his career failing is down to him.
Yes, he has had some bumps along the way. Not being paid by Serbian club Jagodina and Bahia in Brazil has not helped. Yet even earning a move to Philadelphia Union, with a large contract, Adu still was unable to stay focused with too many distractions.
Of course at 27 time is still on his side, just. But he needs to find his way soon as well as a new club.
Freddy Adu always had the talent just unfortunately not the commitment to make it to the top. Maybe someone, somewhere, will take one final gamble at the player people dubbed the next Pele.
For Freddy Adu it would really be last chance saloon.