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Freddy Adu or Freddy A-Don’t?

June 25, 2011
Will Freddy Adu be the Chicken Soup for the Soul of USMNT Fans tonight?

Many of us, myself included, that follow US soccer were elated to see Freddy Adu not only enter the Gold Cup semifinal against Panama, but also contribute significantly to the final outcome.  But of course, this little snippet raises 15 more questions than it answers.  Does Freddy have a future niche in the US team?  Will such appearances increase his chances to play for a bigger club team?  How much of his vast potential that we all saw 8 years ago is still attainable for Freddy?  Unfortunately, those are three questions that are largely unanswerable at this time.  But there is one question in the more immediate timeframe that is worth addressing.

Should Freddy Adu play in tonight’s finale against Mexico, and if so, will he?

Let’s look at this in a Pro and Con sort of way.  There are number of reasons Freddy should NOT play tonight.  For one, he has only played in one match in this tournament, and though he has demonstrated increased maturity, tonight’s game will not be for the light-hearted.  It’s likely we’ll see a number of cards and scuffles throughout the match, and having someone who has been riddled with an immaturity label on the field is a disaster waiting to happen.  Second, though he should increased defensive effort against Panama, he was largely ineffective, only managing to stop his defender by dragging him to the ground.  It’s likely that Bob Bradley will start this game with an extremely defensive approach, and honestly, Freddy just doesn’t fit into this mindset.  Lastly, Mexico is fast.  Very fast. Against arguably the most athletic team the US will have faced, does it make sense to play a smallish player who isn’t super-speedy? Well, you could make the argument that he should.  With Mexico likely controlling the ball most of the night, the US is going to need a couple of things offensively.  First, they will need someone up front with ball skills that allow them to hold the ball for periods of time.  Freddy has that.  Second, they are going to need someone with the creativity to open up the Mexican defense that will, as I expect, be very frustrating for our counter-attack style that will likely be deployed.  As demonstrated with just one pass against Panama, Freddy can do that too.  Furthermore, Freddy is probably as confident as he has been in several years after coming on against Panama.  He knows he won’t be overwhelmed.  He’s shifty enough to present a completely different look to the Mexican defense from our other players.  Furthermore, he seemed to have a nice on-field rapport with several players on Wednesday, notably Michael Bradley and Landon Donovan. In my opinion, Freddy should not start this game.  He hasn’t shown the endurance to last in a high energy match like this over 60 plus minutes.  I do however think he’s one of our first options off the bench if the offense is stalling.  Does that mean Bob will use him?  Definitely not.  In fact, in an important game such as this, Bob is probably much more likely to revert to his favored guys like Sacha Kljestan.  In the end, if the game is close, I expect Bob to safe Freddy for the possibility of extra time.  I don’t expect Freddy to play more than 15 minutes if he gets in, but that might just be enough to make a difference.  Either way, as long as Bob Bradley keeps his job after this tournament(something I expect unless we get blown out tonight), Freddy has proven that he will be a part of the US national team in the near future.  Whether he can build on the opportunity he has created will be determined both with his international and club performances.

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