Freddy Adu will always hold a special place in the hearts of D.C. United fans. Or so we thought. That may end, at least temporarily, with Adu signing once again with MLS. He'll be playing soccer in the U.S. once again, and he'll be doing it just to our north with the Philadelphia Union.
I've been a D.C. United fan from the very beginning - I attended a few matches with my Dad in 1996. But there was a period of time when I lost touch with the club a bit. I was in college, and I was dating a girl who lived 90 minutes to the south, and playing in a band that played 90 minutes to the east. My weekends were spent rocking out far more often than they were spent either at RFK Stadium or in front of the TV. That changed though in 2005.
After graduating and moving in with the girl who would soon become my wife, I embraced the team once again. And I headed to RFK for my first time in years and for my girl's first time ever on October 30, 2005 for the home leg of a playoff matchup against the Chicago Fire. As most of you know, it didn't end well. To the tune of 4-0.
What I remember most about that game though was the reactions of the fans, who were becoming increasingly frustrated throughout the first half as United conceded goal after goal while hardly managing any shots. At more than one point during that first half, a certain chant started. "We want Freddy! We want Freddy!" United's coach Piotr Nowak had left Adu on the bench for the start of the match, as he'd done often throughout the year. But the fans wanted more. The fans wanted Freddy.
When Adu entered the match at halftime, there was a renewed sense of hope. If anyone could find a way to bring us back, it was Adu. Right? Well no. Not this time at least. But that didn't change what Adu represented. The next generation of soccer star, both here in D.C. and across the U.S., was what Adu represented. Then a year later, he was traded. Then a year later, he left the country, and soon left the consciousness of American fans.
Guess what guys. Freddy's back.
With the Union, Adu will get to see plenty of familiar faces. His coach will of course be Nowak, who was also Adu's coach in D.C. The two famously argued about playing time all too often, which has us all wondering how the two will get along now that they're together once again in a different state. Adu will also be reunited with a fellow player from his days in D.C. as Alecko Eskandarian recently joined Philadelphia's developmental program.
It could be tough for Nowak to work Adu into his team once again. We'll see. The Union have lots of attacking options, but somehow haven't scored that many goals. With Carlos Ruiz now gone, the Union will need someone to replace his six goals in the first half of the season. How will Adu fit into an attack that already includes Sebastien Le Toux, Jack McInerney, Justin Mapp, Danny Mwanga, and Roger Torres?
With Adu on the team, and with their surprisingly excellent backline, the Union have to now be considered the favorites to win the Eastern Conference. Hmm. Ok. Me? I'll still take the two-time consecutive MLS player of the week. Dwayne De Rosario over Freddy Adu, hands down.
But should we still be rooting for Adu? He's playing for our rival, so perhaps he should be dead to us. Or perhaps we should root for him to do just well enough to earn himself a big contract back in Europe next season, while still flaming out for the Union when they need him the most. Especially on September 29, when the Union and United meet in Philadelphia.