Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Much Adu About Nothing: Whither Freddy?

This was supposed to be a "passing the torch" moment. Um, not so much.

We here at UF have discussed the career of Freddy Adu at length, debating the merits of staying at Monaco v. moving to an even smaller European club/league v. coming home to MLS. I've even continually kept tabs on the youngster in my Ligue 1 Reviews, hoping against hope that I would have something to interesting to report about Freddy's activities on the pitch. The question remains: What is going on with this kid?

The topic has come up over at Soccer By Ives on several occasions, and now our friend Greg Lalas has chimed in on the subject.

The most recent reports regarding Freddy's playing time with Monaco have been expressing disappointment at the departure of AS Monaco president Jerome de Bontin who only arrived last April. The reason for his departure has been stated as being that the new majority investor in AS Monaco expressed a difference of opinion with de Bontin regarding his authority over club affairs. One example of his prior exercises of authority is his insistence on signing Freddy on loan from Benfica, and he appears to have been Adu's sole champion at the club.

With that in mind, let's examine Adu's career:

Playing with the U-20 and U-23 USA squads, he has a total of 20 goals in 38 matches which is an excellent strikerate. However, playing on the full senior squad (i.e. the USMNT), he only has 1 goal in 12 matches which represents a significant dip in production. Of course, on the USMNT Freddy faces much more serious competition for playing time and even when on the pitch he is not the first choice to receive the ball on scoring opprotunities. Yet, when playing in MLS for DC United, against demonstrably inferior competition to that which he now faces in Europe, he only had 11 goals in 87 matches, which is a similar rate to that on the USMNT. In short, against teenagers Freddy scores approximately 1 goal every 2 matches, against domestic (US) competition he scores approximately 1 goal every 8 matches, and against international competition he scores 1 goal every 12 matches (so far, at least). See a pattern emerging there?

Just maybe, Freddy Adu was a bit overhyped and he had not lived up to expectations before he even set foot in Europe. So what has happened at Monaco? Have a look:

Ligue 1 matches:
26: Number of matches for which Freddy was eligible to be selected
17: Number of matches for which Freddy was selected
0: Number of matches for which Freddy was in the starting XI
9: Number of matches for which Freddy was used as a substitute

In those 9 matches, Adu has played a total of 97 minutes (with his longest match appearance at 21 minutes against Rennes in a 2-1 loss), scored 0 goals, had 0 assists, and picked up 1 yellow card (which came 1 minute after his substitution against Bordeaux). He has come on as a substitute in the 87th minute, 82nd minute (twice), 79th minute (twice), 69th minute, 90th (!) minute, 80th minute, and 75th minute.

More importantly for Lalas' assertion that Freddy should "tough it out" where he noted that "Ricardo continues regularly to include Adu in the match day roster, an obvious encouragement to the youngster", in the past 7 Ligue 1 matches Adu has only been selected once and he never got off the bench in that match.

Now, to be fair to Freddy, his best performance of the season was the match where he got the most time on the pitch, playing 21 minutes against Carlos Bocanegra and a very good Stade Rennais side. But in the other matches, even when he has 10 minutes on the pitch he has looked completely lost. Certainly some of this is a function of being thrust into a match so late, but he trains with his teammates every day and so there should be a modicum of understanding between them that simply does not appear to be there.

Sadly, Freddy reminds me more and more of Landon Donovan's early days in Europe (although Landon's latest stint isn't blowing any doors off either). He looks lost, hurt, confused, and a bit homesick. In contrast to Lalas' assertion that Freddy coming home would damage both himself and US soccer, I think that the youngster still has much to learn about being a team player, and he is better suited doing that on an MLS club with 1 or 2 other "important" players rather than in Europe where he will be dismissed too easily, as most American outfield players tend to be. Perhaps after 2-3 more years of seasoning playing alongside a mix of aging international players and current USMNT players, Adu will develop the mentality he needs to be successful in Europe. I don't think that anyone doubts that the skill is there - his recent performances against Argentina and Juventus have demonstrated that. Maybe Freddy Adu just needs to grow up, or risk being the latest wunderkind to not live up to his billing.


30f said...

I am not sure what the correct path is for Freddy (or any young US player). Monaco does not seem to be working out for 'our' Pele, and i wonder how much Freddy's youthful/fragile mentality plays a role in that.

Maurice Edu played for Rangers over the weekend - but that is a big change since he has rarely been picked at Ibrox.

More troubling to me, is Jozy Altidore at Villareal and now Xerez in the Spanish Segunda division. I took it as a good sign that the Yellow Submarine did NOT want to sell Jozy to Everton, but it was clearly a mixed bag that Jozy was loaned out to the smaller Xerez for the rest of the season. Maybe Villareal thinks he just needs some more seasoning - but he is hardly getting it. Over the last five Xerez games, Jozy has played zero minutes.

Can Jozy cut it in Spain? Unfortunately, the answer is the same now as it was before he left New York: We don't know.

Brian K said...

Just remember Adu spent is time in DC on the wing and not at AMF.

Autoglass said...

Excellent work, NYK. But I will suggest that maybe it's just that Adu is an overhyped waste of space. Look at your analysis. I ask you all, What...has...he...done?

Anonymous said...

AMF is the position that HE said he was best suited for. DC played him on the wing and he left. He needs a coach that want to tutor him, not just throw him in the fire and hope for the best....