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Freddy Getting Ready

I've got a ton of quotes to share with you from my visit with Freddy Adu at his home in Rockville this afternoon, but first a few anecdotes:

*Freddy said that, besides Benfica, Ajax, as well as other clubs in the Netherlands and in France, were most interested in his services.

*Not expecting to train with Benfica during his trip there earlier this week, Freddy did not bring along his cleats. When he got there, though, the club wanted to put him through a session. When Freddy explained his shoe dilemma, an equipment manager dug up a pair. One big problem for the young Nike man: The shoes were Adidas. If he were photographed in the three stripes, he would be in a heap of trouble. So the search continued until one pair of swoosh boots were found -- only they were two small sizes too small. "They were killing me," Adu said, laughing.

*The walls in the tastefully decorated Adu house are covered with framed photos of Freddy with Shaquille O'Neal, Freddy with the president of Ghana, Freddy celebrating United's 2004 championship, Freddy at age 5 or 6 in Ghana standing next to younger brother Fro and many other. While we spoke, an old Brazil-Ghana match on Fox Soccer Channel was on the big TV in the living room. Behind us was a full-scale Pepsi vending machine. A tour of the basement revealed a wide-screen TV with theater seating, electronic window blinds and a glassed-in fitness center.

*George Mason-bound Fro Adu wasn't around, but Freddy was eager to discuss his college career. "I think he's going to be great. It will fit him really well because he's a big kid, he's very physical. I am more of a skillful-type player, smaller, he just has a big presence. I want him to do well and I know he will."

As for Fro handling the pressure of being Freddy Adu's brother, Freddy said: "I always call Fro 'weird' because what bothers most people, he doesn't care about. Every time I go to his games, you hear people from other schools, the fans screaming, 'You're not Freddy!' and stuff like that, and he just doesn't care. He just keeps balling and doing his thing. When I ask him if that bothers him, he's like, 'I could care less. You are you and I'm me. I'm not trying to be you. I'm trying to be myself.' And I love that."

To see Freddy's comments about MLS, D.C. United, Benfica and his future, please continue reading below.....

Soccer Insider: What's it like in Lisbon?
Freddy Adu: It's unbelievable. I get to live in Lisbon. It's a great place. Before I went there I was a little concerned about the language barrier, but it was great when I was there. A lot of people speak English because they teach it. I will be able to get by without knowing Portuguese, but I am going to learn to speak Portuguese. I'm really excited about that - it makes me seem smart. Three languages (English, Portuguese and the Ghanaian dialect of Twi), that will be nice. I am sure I will pick it up as time goes by anyways, but I am going to see how it goes and, if I need to get a tutor, I am sure the team will help me find one.
What I am worrying about right now is how badly I am going to miss my family. I am going to miss America, but I love the culture over there too. I am the kind of person who adapts and adjusts to new places. My mom is coming out for a couple weeks anyway, so that will help.

SI: Describe the reception you received in Lisbon this week.
FA: You have no idea. Let me tell you something: I have never had anything like this before. It was nuts. I felt like David Beckham. I get off the plane and I am thinking, 'Hey, I'm some 18-year-old American kid, no one is really going to pay attention.' I get into the airport, there are cameras in my face and people screaming. But you know what? I loved it because that just shows you that they appreciate having you there and when you are wanted, it makes everything easier.

SI: Your thoughts on Benfica.
FA: I always said I wanted to play for a big club, get a chance to play Champions League one day, and Benfica couldn't be a more perfect place for me to be. Making the jump from MLS, I wanted to go to a place like Portugal or Holland or France to start my European career. That's what guys like Ronaldo and Ronaldinho did. Look where they are now. I wanted to go that route. Benfica gives young players a chance to develop and they will play you. Compared to other clubs where you will sit on the bench and it takes a while before you play, Benfica has a lot of young players and they will give you the opportunity to develop. I couldn't be on a more perfect team right now.

SI: Do you look at Benfica as a stepping stone to something bigger in the future?
FA: Right now, it's just about Benfica. They have given me a chance to realize my dream. And I really want to take full advantage of that. They want me there. That's a great feeling. They made a conscious effort to be the first team to come out with an offer after the U-20 World Cup. That told me a lot. If they're going to make all this effort to get you, they are going to showcase you. I've talked to the coach and he asked me where I wanted to play, and I've never had that happen before.
I know they want me to be a big part of the team. People are not going to spend this much time and this much money on you if they're not going to want you to be a big part of the team. That being said, look at what happened in D.C. with me. I come in with all the hoopla in the world and I get put on the bench. So you never know. Nothing is guaranteed. I am just going to go in and show them that I am ready to contribute right away.

SI: Where do you think you will play for Benfica? Attacking midfield?
FA: Rui Costa is a legend and I am just glad I can learn from someone like that. Right now Simao left the team so I am thinking they might put me in that position on right wing or left wing. But it's not really a wing there because it gives you the flexibility to move around.

SI: When you look back at your MLS career, what are your thoughts?
FA: I thought it was great. There were ups and downs and I learned a lot. A lot. You learn from the ups and you learn a lot more from the downs. I am happy with everything I went through because it made me a better person and it made me a much better player. I am 100 times better today than I was when I first stepped foot in this league. That's a fact. I am just happy I had this experience because it really prepared me for European soccer. I didn't get anything easy, nothing was handed to me, I had to earn everything, and I think that's really going to help me in the long run.

SI: What did you learn from the down parts?
FA: I learned a lot about myself going through the downs because, you know what, regardless of what I go through, I am able to bounce back. Before the Under-20 World Cup, my back was completely pushed against the wall. It was put up or shut up, that's what it was. I had a lot of people writing me off already, but I just turned 18. I don't know how people could do that. The World Cup was pretty much a do-or-die tournament for me and I was able to deliver. I learned that if I really set my mind to something, if I really want something bad enough, I am going to get it.

SI: When you think about your time with United, do you have good memories, bad memories or a mix?
FA: I have mixed feelings. We had some great times and some not-so-great times. But I think the great times outdid the not-so-great times. Overall it was a good experience for me. I thank guys like Kevin Payne and Dave Kasper and the coaching staffs because if I didn't have to go through all of it, I probably wouldn't be here right now talking about going to Europe. The people who helped me the most were my teammates, guys like Ben Olsen, Josh Gros, Clyde Simms, John Wilson, they were a great help. In Salt Lake, it was the same thing. All those guys, I have nothing but high praise for them.

SI: Why did you ask to be traded last winter?
FA: I just got to the point where I felt like I had to leave. Things were not going to change in D.C. and I wanted to be in a different situation where I felt more comfortable. I just really never felt 100 percent comfortable when I was in D.C. and sometimes my play even showed that. I was very hesitant doing a lot of things I would just do without thinking about. I felt it took a toll on my game because I wasn't as imaginative, I wasn't as confident, but I was able to get that back and I got it back at the right time, just before the U-20s.

SI: Have you spoken with Peter Nowak recently?
FA: I haven't talked to Peter since I left D.C., but obviously he's the assistant coach on the national team and if I get called up, I am sure I will see him. He might be the Olympic coach too so I will be seeing a lot of him.

SI: Did your plan for getting to Europe turn out the way you wanted?
FA: I said I wanted to go to Europe after four years and I was able to accomplish it in 3 ½ despite everyone counting me out. It's crazy. Despite everyone saying I wasn't living up to the hype and all that crap, I was able to accomplish my goal I set for myself before I joined the league and did it in 3 ½ years. I am ahead of schedule right now for where I want to be. I always had said I wanted to play for a big club in Europe and never in a million years did I ever think it would happen in 3 ½ with a team like Benfica.

SI: Do you think you might end up playing in a lot of reserve games for Benfica?
FA: If they are going to spend this much on you, I am pretty confident they are going to showcase you. It's not guaranteed, but they brought me in to make a difference. They didn't bring me in to wait for me to get a clue. The coach made it very clear: I am going to be a big part of this team. I don't want anyone to have any doubts. I want to go in right from Day One and prove I am ready for this.

By Steve Goff  |  August 2, 2007; 7:54 PM ET
Categories:  U.S. men's national team  
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Next: What Will Happen First.....


Maybe now he'll actually try. Why was the U-20 cup so easy for him but he didn't do squat in MLS? Because Freddy was looking for another payday. He already had his MLS payday, and he knew he just needed the U-20's to get his Euro payday. But he won't last very long if his attitude doesn't change.

Posted by: Freddy Stinks | August 2, 2007 8:51 PM | Report abuse

I hope he gets his playing time. I think this is a great move, benfica is def. a legendary club, yet at the same time is a great league for freddy to play in. Its more about being technical than strength. I hope he is looked at as one of their star signings to help the team out....

Posted by: Bolivian DC Fan | August 2, 2007 9:02 PM | Report abuse

just my opinion: fro adu is not a good player.

Posted by: longfellow | August 2, 2007 9:03 PM | Report abuse

2nd rate team in a 2nd rate league - he's happy with the money he is making, but this is a kid who was talking about Man Utd. or Chelsea and is now going to Benfica. Will he have what it takes to compete for playing time without being the petulant child?

Posted by: "Big club" | August 2, 2007 9:22 PM | Report abuse

Freddy still seems to be a bit immature. I'm not saying he should act like a grizzled veteran after 3+ years in the MLS, but the kid hass got A LOT of growing up to do. He's an electrifying player with the ball. I hope he can enjoy the game in the new environment and lose the air of entitlement.

Posted by: beans | August 2, 2007 9:28 PM | Report abuse

What's it like pulling up in a Prius with all them there Adu Mercedes's and whatnot? Are you getting a Ghanaian (sp?) feast with the interview?


Good Luck from his DC United fans.

Posted by: d | August 2, 2007 9:30 PM | Report abuse

He is so conceited.

Posted by: Rich, Va | August 2, 2007 9:35 PM | Report abuse

So with all those Freddy with "INSERT VIP" pictures in his living room, Fro isn't a tinge resentful?

If so, that's great and speaks volumes for him and his family.


Good LUCK!

Posted by: d | August 2, 2007 9:37 PM | Report abuse

For all the negative comments on this board:

HE is an 18 year old footballer, playing in the biggest FOOTBALL arena in the world: EUROPE where lots of teenage girls will be throwing their panties at him because after all he is after all a footballer even if the club is not Chelsea, Barcolona or Madrid.


Posted by: justsayin' | August 2, 2007 9:45 PM | Report abuse

Hey, he sounds like he's still got a beef with Nowak... Better grow up fast, kid, if you want to play in Beijing, 'cause Papa Peter's the man you gotta impress... :-)

I say he's riding the pine by mid-September, crying for home and Mamma Adu's hugs and kisses by Thanksgiving, and "starring" for RSL (or some other MLS side) by the beginning of the 2008 MLS season... Not wishing him ill, but he still sounds like the same insolent brat that mouthed-off during the playoffs with DCU...

Buena suerte, pendejo! Que te la pasen bien... hasta los huevos!

Posted by: Soy United! | August 2, 2007 9:45 PM | Report abuse

In 10/10 hind sight (I don't think enough time has passed for 20/20) I think Nowak did the right thing, ride Freddy and ride 'em hard. I think that it really helped Freddy to start thinking like a team player and not 1 vs. 11. I seriously doubt that he would have worked so well with Altidori (whom I've put all my US trust in -- and I'm harDCore as they come)if Freddy hadn't gotten yelled at, rode the pine, etc.

As for Benfica vs Milan vs Chelski -- I definately think he did the right thing. MLS completely oversold him and he knows it. I don't remember all that hype when Altidori joined the league and he's every bit the marque player that young Master Adu is.

Just glad I got to see his first pro match against Whats Their Names and that screamer he scored from downtown against L.A. that first season.

Posted by: Roy Stevens | August 2, 2007 9:47 PM | Report abuse

Soy United,

That's ridiculous. Keep it clean on the board.

Posted by: d | August 2, 2007 9:48 PM | Report abuse

"2nd rate team in a 2nd rate league - he's happy with the money he is making, but this is a kid who was talking about Man Utd. or Chelsea and is now going to Benfica. Will he have what it takes to compete for playing time without being the petulant child?"
Hey Big Club, where do you play? Also, he's 18 years old! Benfica will be in the Champion's League playing against the best of the best in Europe and if Portugal is 2nd rate, what's MLS? This is a great opportunity, and wish he thrives. After the U20 WC, I hope he gets a National Team call-up. And maybe he'll be a $20 million transfer to Chelsea after the 2010 World Cup! :)

Posted by: gallegoscot | August 2, 2007 9:49 PM | Report abuse

Why was the U-20 cup so easy for him but he didn't do squat in MLS?

The U-20 World Cup wasn't easy for him. he had to work hard just to help get the US to the quarterfinals. he put in a great effort. he was playing a more comfortable role against players more in his age range, where established "professionalism" wasn't on display for large portions of the tournament games.

Adu didn't put up huge numbers in MLS, but one MLS Cup victory and 3.5 years learning to be a pro playing a man's game isn't bad work for a kid who was 15, 16 and 17 years old during his time in MLS.

it's a shame some people can't have a more realistic assessment of Adu's "career" to this point, and wish him well as he takes on a new challenge.

MLS starts some of their players so young (see D.Beasley, B.Convey, E.Johnson, M.Bradley, F.Adu, J.Altidore), but they can go on to nice (and nice paying) club careers and help the US national team.

Posted by: some respect | August 2, 2007 9:53 PM | Report abuse

I, for one, enjoyed the interview (thanks Goff!) and wish him well.

The kid is 18, give him a break.

Posted by: Lost in BA | August 2, 2007 9:53 PM | Report abuse

d... mordemela, tarado.

Posted by: Soy United! | August 2, 2007 9:55 PM | Report abuse


Epa, amigo!

Posted by: Erick | August 2, 2007 10:09 PM | Report abuse

Good luck to Freddy. Some of the bitter comments here are perplexing. Surely anyone who has followed soccer for any length of time should know that a 14-year-old wouldn't walk into a pro league and start teaching everyone how to play the game.

Freddy didn't do the impossible and live up to the ludicrous hype but he's still a darn good 18-year-old American prospect.

I think he's considerably better than young Bobby Convey when he went over to England. That may be a better comparison and both a cautionary tale and an encouraging one. Bobby had some struggles and lots of pine time but eventually became an important contributor and then has had to battle injuries.

So don't expect straight line steady increased performance from any young developing pro.

Best wishes at Benfica and work on developing that part of your body called the right foot!

Posted by: garbaggio | August 2, 2007 10:15 PM | Report abuse

great interview. I hate to break it to freddy but $2M isn't really that much money for a team like Benfica so him thinking that because they spent some money on him that they are going to "feature" him is a big misconception and i think he'll be in for a rude awakening. That being said, I hope he puts in the work and really improves.

Posted by: owendylan | August 2, 2007 10:19 PM | Report abuse

I for one am glad Freddy went to Portugal rather than to England. I think his game is much better suited to the continental style. He'd get run over in England, too much pace and he doesn't have the height for the long ball game that so many English teams favor.

I hope this is a stepping stone for him to La Liga. We'll just have to see if he really is good enough, first...

Posted by: NattyBo | August 2, 2007 10:27 PM | Report abuse

The amount of bile in these threads about Adu is stunning. Benfica is a very good team in a very good league. The transfer was good for everyone - MLS would have had to up his pay in 2008 and ake him a DP to keep him. European teams knew that. That, more than anything else, kept his price where it was.

If you saw him with any regularity at DCU, you know he is a very, very good player with huge skills. And like many good players in Europe, hw'll benefit from the talent and the resources around him.

Posted by: Nogra Rover | August 2, 2007 10:27 PM | Report abuse

What's the deal with the hate? "He's conceited!" "He needs to change his attitude!" "He needs to grow up!" Call the Whambulance, what a bunch of...

The kid is 18, he's headed over to Lisbon to play with one of the bigger soccer clubs in the world, he's just proven himself against some of the world's best at his age level... Sheesh, just because he doesn't swear fidelity to the Land of Novak... Just because he's living the life all us loser, Sunday rec-leaguers would like to lead...

There's always the chance that DC and Novak actually wasn't the best match. That's nothing against Fred, nothing against United, and nothing against Novak. It's just, potentially, the fact of the matter.

Posted by: YePatheticLosers | August 2, 2007 10:35 PM | Report abuse

I hope Freddy is a good cook...because I think a lot of you will be eating some fried crow...mark my words...

American fans are really quick to just turn their backs on their players...why?

Posted by: Bill | August 2, 2007 10:47 PM | Report abuse

I hope Freddy is a good cook...because I think a lot of you will be eating some fried crow...mark my words...

American fans are really quick to just turn their backs on their players...why?

Posted by: Bill | August 2, 2007 10:47 PM | Report abuse

>>>>look at what happened in D.C. with me. I come in with all the hoopla in the world and I get put on the bench

You earn your shirt.

Just sayin.

Posted by: morphit | August 2, 2007 11:00 PM | Report abuse

The negative comments on this board are fairly idiotic in my bet. Like a lot of the internet because this is anonymous people use it as a way of working out their own personal issues. Not happy with their lives so they will happily trash someone else's life. Enough already.

On the soccer front, I would like to challenge the myth that Freddy didn't do anything while at DC United. If you look purely at the stats Freddy was in the top 5 in goals and assists every year he was with United. Look it up. So as a 14, 15 and then 16 year old he was one of the top 5 guys on the team in both stats. I'm not sure how many game winning goals he had but I sure as hell remember the one he scored against LA in the 89th or 90th minute. Maybe he was 16 then.

Is Freddy Adu the next Pele. Don't be Absurd. Is he an outstanding young player. Benfica seems to think so. They just let $2M of their dollars do the talking for them on that front.

I hope Freddy does well. I wish him all the success in the world. Moving to a new country when you're a child and making it. That's a dream come true for anyone. Moving to this country and making it, well, that's the American Dream! In one way or another that's why a lot of us are here.

And as my friend Forrest Forrest Gump has to say "and that's all I have to say 'bout that"

Posted by: Dan | August 2, 2007 11:06 PM | Report abuse

Anybody else just watch the announcers on GolTV News misidentify Troy Perkins as the Houston GK?

Okay, now I'll read Goff's blog entry.

Posted by: Juan-John | August 2, 2007 11:18 PM | Report abuse

I came to the Soccer Insider and a BigSoccer thread broke out.

Goff, great work. Have you heard anything about Szetela leaving Columbus?

Posted by: B.A. | August 2, 2007 11:18 PM | Report abuse

Ummm, for those who think Benfica is a 2nd-rate Euro club, didn't it make $100 million-plus in revenues last year? Are there ANY Major League Soccer teams that can match that? Heck, can Major League Soccer ITSELF match that? (I'm only being partially facetious here because I really don't know the answer to that question)

I know Freddy's a good player, but here's hoping he gets the SNOT kicked outta him the first couple months, realizes there's a TON he still needs to learn, acquires some humility and then bears down and works his a$$ off and improves to the point that he's able to help take Benfica deep into the Champions League.

Posted by: Juan-John | August 2, 2007 11:43 PM | Report abuse

I *heart* B.A.

Best of luck to Freddy. Great move to a great club. Oh to be 18 and playing the beautiful game in a city like Lisbon.

Posted by: golfstrom | August 2, 2007 11:48 PM | Report abuse

Adu has been a steady, occasionally brilliant, team contributor who has scored a handful of exceptional goals. Fire media coaches, close mouth and play futbol.

Posted by: Jobu | August 3, 2007 12:01 AM | Report abuse

The dude forgot to pack a single pair of his cleats!? Shocking! Baffling! Clearly not ready for prime time. And Shame on Nike for not dispatching a representative post haste.

Posted by: Endorsement United | August 3, 2007 12:15 AM | Report abuse

So "freddy stinks", "big club","rich va","soy united", etc. what were you guys doing when you were 18?........yeah i figured. The kid will be just fine. Good Luck Alfredito!!!!

Posted by: bostero! | August 3, 2007 12:56 AM | Report abuse

So "freddy stinks", "big club","rich va","soy united", etc. what were you guys doing when you were 18?........yeah i figured. The kid will be just fine. Good Luck Alfredito!!!!

Posted by: bostero! | August 3, 2007 12:56 AM | Report abuse

I will never forgive Freddy for suggesting that he might play for Ghana... the day that the USA lost to Ghana in the World Cup.

Posted by: No Forgiveness | August 3, 2007 1:25 AM | Report abuse

A few thoughts...

- I agree that Freddy may be in for a surprise if he thinks playing time is going to be handed to him on a silver platter. $2M ain't all that much, especially with exchange rates where they are now.

- That said, it looks like a bargain price for someone who is clearly one of the top 10 players of his age in the world (and I say that knowing full well he has a lot to learn to reach his full potential).

- It may not go as smoothly as he thinks, but if he opens himself up to the point he can learn from the experience, Benfica is a great club for him. They're big enough that he shouldn't be able to fool himself into thinking, "Things will be different when I'm in the big time" if things don't go right for him at the beginning.

- I think England would have been a huge mistake--his style and the EPL just aren't that compatible. Ajax would have been an interesting choice, too. Ultimately, though, I think Freddy needs an environment where he can develop his vision, not have someone else's forced upon him. I hope Benfica fits that description; on the surface, they appear to.

Posted by: JJH | August 3, 2007 1:35 AM | Report abuse

I think others have said it, but I'll be clearer - Benfica is without a doubt a first rate club in a second tier league...a league that is still a step above MLS, and really only looking up at England, Spain, Italy and Germany. Probably on par with France and Holland.

Posted by: the cheat | August 3, 2007 1:47 AM | Report abuse

Soy United,

No chinges guey....deja a D en paz.

Ese blog es para gente decente....

Ya se fue modo...lo bueno que DC va a recibir lana del cambio de Adu.

Vamos DC...a que ganar a Galaxy.

Posted by: Matt Y | August 3, 2007 2:51 AM | Report abuse

All the hate here is misguided and pathetic. I've met Freddy numerous times and he's just a kid having a great time playing the game we love. I doubt any of the haters could've stood the constant media and fan pressure he had to deal with at such an early age. I wish him the best and look forward to seeing him play. 10 years from now when he's leading the US WC team all these haters will be eating crow.

Posted by: Chico | August 3, 2007 7:34 AM | Report abuse

good for freddy, potentially good for the USMNT. i will try to follow benfica as much as possible.

Posted by: antonio | August 3, 2007 7:46 AM | Report abuse

When Freddy was brought in, there was so much hype that it polarized everyone. The Freddy haters couldn't stand the fact that he didn't prostrate himself before the badge, and the Freddy lovers expected way too much out of a 15 year old. I repeat, a 15 year old.

What exactly is all the hate about, anyway? Is it because Freddy didn't get down on his knees and kiss Nowak's ring? Or was it his arse you wanted to see Freddy kiss? Nowak is from the old school of Eastern European coaching, where authoritarianism is the only thing they know. Nowak didn't bench Freddy because Freddy couldn't play, or to protect the young lad, as so many people have falsely claimed. He benched Freddy solely to show Freddy who was boss. Well, congratulations, everyone, we sure showed Freddy who was boss, and ran him straight out of town. So, instead of investing in a player who could have been our future, and loosening the reins to let him play and develop, we let Nowak stifle him and try to turn him into some sort of Dynamo Kiev android.

This is a symptom of our larger national soccer disease. We rely on others to tell us what kind of style we should play; we don't let players play their game. We try to plug players into systems, instead of making the systems fit the players. Every once in a while, you get a player who refuses to do this, and they get a reputation of being a "petulant child." Do the names Mathis or Dempsey ring a bell? United discovered the futility of this approach earlier this season with the stubborn insistence on sticking with the 3-5-2.

Admittedly, I don't read all the United gossip, but it seems to me that Freddy always gave an honest effort on the field, and never did anything to embarass the club. I think, for a teenager, he's handled himself unbelievably well. Good luck, Freddy, score a hatful and see you in the Champions League!!!

Posted by: Grotus | August 3, 2007 7:58 AM | Report abuse

I wish Freddy well at Benfica. While I didn't like what he did in the playoffs his first year with D.C. United, which disrupted the team, I'm sure that he's grown and learned from his experiences.

He came through big in the U-20 World Cup, as did his teammates, and now he's being rewarded.

Conceited? What star soccer players aren't a bit conceited?

I'm amazed by the fan ire that players like Eddie Johnson, DaMarcus Beasley and Freddy Adu seem to raise. I have to wonder if some of the stereotypes about some of the players that come up (lazy, conceited, only cares about money) are racist in nature.

If we're going to be a great soccer nation, we need to give everyone a chance, regardless of their background and whether or not we like their personalities.

Posted by: Bill in Md. | August 3, 2007 8:12 AM | Report abuse

Wow, hatin' on an 18 year old for being immature and self-centered.

That's just sad.

Project much?

Posted by: Matt | August 3, 2007 8:13 AM | Report abuse

I hope Freddy gets to play a ton and tears it up in Portugal, takes it to another level, then comes to home to tear it up for the USA.

He's still got plenty of time to learn.

Posted by: Joe S. | August 3, 2007 8:23 AM | Report abuse

This is great for Freddy--Benfica knocked ManU out of the Champs League two years ago, they're not exactly chopped liver.

He's an 18-year-old US attacking player who just got bought by a quality European side that will see Champs League or UEFA Cup action every year and plays a style that fits his strengths perfectly. Where's the negative in that?

Posted by: Shmenge | August 3, 2007 8:36 AM | Report abuse

So who were the French teams? Lyon, Lille, PSG?

Good luck Freddy and you will need it, 65,000 fans in Estadio da Luz are going to be a lot harder to satisfy than a couple thousand Barra Brava and screaming 14 year old girls.

Posted by: Southeasterner | August 3, 2007 8:38 AM | Report abuse

Nowak's first and only commitment was to the team. He won a championship with Freddy on that team. To think Nowak was trying to show Freddy who's the boss is absurd.

Posted by: Chico | August 3, 2007 8:40 AM | Report abuse


Freddy, go talk to your other new teammate Marco Zoro ASAP. You need to learn a lot about racisim in European football.

Posted by: Southeasterner | August 3, 2007 8:46 AM | Report abuse

He has made a good choice. Many, many stars of today got their start in a "junior" Euro league so Freddy is taking a well-proven path to the big leagues. Ronaldo with PSV, Ronaldinho with Paris. God bless Freddy in this next step of his young career. Make us proud.

Posted by: rrp | August 3, 2007 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Every time there is a thread on Freddy all the haters and fanboys come out to do battle.

Such amusement for the rest of us and you don't even have to do pay-per-view.

Posted by: gotta love it | August 3, 2007 9:07 AM | Report abuse

I think Ajax would have been a good move for him, hopefully the Benfica thing pans out.

Good luck to him

Posted by: RIP General | August 3, 2007 9:12 AM | Report abuse

When I was 18 my club team won the U-19 National Championship. I think everyone on that team got a big head for a little while, just as every team that wins the national championship does; it's hard not to when you're that age. Freddy will mature as most of us do, both personally and as a player.

Moving to Portugal is a great move for him - for people to say it's a "2nd rate team in a 2nd rate league" reveals a real lack of understanding of the competitiveness of the European leagues. Teams like Chelsea, Man Utd, AC Milan, etc. have world class stars sitting on the bench.

Adu is 18 and has a chance for success if he dedicates himself and really puts in a lot of extra work - nothing will be handed to him over there. Teams have no trouble benching a player who cost $20M if he's not producing - let alone a player for whom they spent $2M.

Don't we all wish we were playing for Benfica when we were 18?

Posted by: Jim | August 3, 2007 9:25 AM | Report abuse

"I will never forgive Freddy for suggesting that he might play for Ghana... the day that the USA lost to Ghana in the World Cup."

I felt the same way initially. But he's a kid and it was just talk. He speaks now as though the US program is his future.

Count me among Freddy's well wishers. MLS didn't do right by him in managing the expectations. When I watched the YouTube clip of the 9 year-old who was signed by Man U, I thought "here we go again." I hope that boy has strong parents who put him ahead of the almighty £.

Interesting note on the cleats sponsorship: I was thumbing through my wife's gossip mag and saw a picture of Posh taking her boys to soccer practice. One was wearing Nike sandals. The Adidas rep better outfit the entire team in three-striped footwear.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | August 3, 2007 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Wow, calling Freddy self centered and immature is harsh.

Have you fellas gotten your head out of your arses long enough to see NFL, MLB and college athletes of late?

Freddy is light years ahead of them.

Posted by: d | August 3, 2007 9:36 AM | Report abuse

I have nothing against Adu but I really hope that he doesn't expect to play a lot because Benfica spent $2 mil on him. That's not a lot for a club like Benfica especially when you consider that it is less than one tenth of the fee that they received for Simao.

I don't think we'll have to worry about Freddy having the same issues as Landy though. He has already made the adjustment to a new culture previously in his life so that should be something he can handle.

He also has an advantage over other players from MLS that have moved overseas because he moved in the summer as opposed to January, something that killed Dempsey's chances at Fulham last season. Freddy is in midseason form heading into training camp at Benfica.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 3, 2007 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Benfica is not a second rate club. It may not have the money that Manchester United or Liverpool, but it is a very very big club. In terms of history it is much bigger than Chelsea.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 3, 2007 9:42 AM | Report abuse

any hope that FSC can work out a contract to show some Benfica games this year?

Posted by: pat | August 3, 2007 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Some network already covers Portugal, so no. We'll have to luck with Champions League games.

Posted by: RK | August 3, 2007 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Great interview, Goff.

After reading a few of the despicable notes from those on this board (Has Freddy committed crimes, like running dog fight operations, etc., while I was sleeping?), it's good to know that the majority of people out there show some decency and class.

Re his play, how can this be anything but good for those of us who want the U.S. to become a first class soccer nation? Freddy is going to a club that has developed some of the best players in the world. We need a #10, and he may be it...he's only 18, after all.

I also read his blog for the first time a few minutes ago--look at how much these fans support him? There are hundreds of nice notes.

Okay, back to work...again, thanks Goff.

Posted by: mishasegal | August 3, 2007 10:21 AM | Report abuse

FYI Benfica has drawn the winner of Kobenhavn and Beitar Jerusalem.

Posted by: RK | August 3, 2007 10:28 AM | Report abuse

"I'm amazed by the fan ire that players like Eddie Johnson, DaMarcus Beasley and Freddy Adu seem to raise. I have to wonder if some of the stereotypes about some of the players that come up (lazy, conceited, only cares about money) are racist in nature."

Thankfully there's Landon Donovan to make sure all races can be well-represented when hating on American soccer players.

As for Freddy and Benfica, I'm happy for him. It seems like a good fit and I wish him well. Hopefully he'll soon be contributing to the USMNT.

Posted by: Tim | August 3, 2007 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Good luck Freddy, hope you do learn to play better team soccer and grow to your potential, you've got the talent.
I also hope none of "your people" make the move overseas with you, they are not helping you professionally.

this comment section is freaky - I see way, way more posts from people whining about other people hating on Freddy - than I see any posts actually doing that. Y'all crack me up. why would you care if someone likes him or not anyway.

Thanks Goff!

Posted by: Lonnie | August 3, 2007 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Weren't those the lines from a Warren Zevon song (Johnny strike up the band)?

"Freddy get ready, rock steady".

What's next SG, a feature on Kpene with the title "and his hair was perfect" (Werewolves of London) or "send lawyers, guns and money" if Payne makes another venture for a DP?

Posted by: JoeW | August 3, 2007 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Figuring out where the Portuguese league rates in Europe is not rocket science. UEFA ( actually calculates it every year and that is how they determine how many slots each country gets in the Champions League and UEFA Cup. Currently Portugal gets 2 teams directly into the group stage (Porto and Sporting) and one team (Benfica) in the third elimination round.
The ratings are based upon the national team results in European Cup and the historical performance in Uefa club competitions.
Currently only England, Spain, Italy and Germany rank higher than Portugal.
So Freddy is with a great club (Benfica reached the final 8 of the Champions league two years ago eliminating ManU and Liverpool). Not bad for a so called second rate club!!
Also don't forget that another Portuguese team, FC Porto won the Champions league and UEFA Cup under Jose Mourinho (have you heard of Chelsea? )

Posted by: John M | August 3, 2007 11:20 AM | Report abuse

don't let the door hit you on the arse on the way out fly boy!

Posted by: Erik | August 3, 2007 11:55 AM | Report abuse

John M.: Thanks for enlightening the discussion with actual data. People are high on the Eredivisie, but your post argues that the Portugese league ranks above the Dutch. This is confirmed by the rankings on Wikipedia, which place the French league ahead of the Portugese (on points) and Benfica ahead of Ajax.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | August 3, 2007 12:33 PM | Report abuse

i hope Freddy does well in Portugal and hopefully he proves himself and moves on to the top teams in Spain! mas morbo!

Posted by: rosado | August 3, 2007 12:40 PM | Report abuse

This really sounds like immaturity, eh? Sounds like he's got more perspective than most 18 y/o.

the Freddy should haters back off . . .

"""When I came to D.C. United, I was too young, I didn't really know what I was getting myself into and I wasn't able to deal with it as well as I could have.""

Posted by: delantero | August 3, 2007 12:45 PM | Report abuse

What's next SG, a feature on Kpene with the title "and his hair was perfect" (Werewolves of London) or "send lawyers, guns and money" if Payne makes another venture for a DP?


JoeW, You'll appreciate my Elvis Costello reference in this 1998 World Cup story:

"There was peace, love and just a little bit of misunderstanding at sparkling Stade de la Mosson tonight, as Italy restored order to the chaotic Group B first-round standings with a 3-0 victory over Cameroon."


Posted by: Goff | August 3, 2007 1:13 PM | Report abuse

First of the MLS hyped Freddy Adu like he was the second coming of soccer and the next Pelé? Any one knows anything about soccer knows that that was completely absurd and un-realistic. So the American media hype got way out of control and used Freddy like a circus token. All the pessimistic haters on this blog just shows that ALL OF YOU are complete IDIOTS & payed way too much attention to the stupid American soccer hype that surrounded him.

Should be interesting to see how is game matures and hopefully he will gain more in size. Good choice to go to Benfica as it sounds like he will get minutes which is what he needs. I look forward to watching his highlights on youtube & hopefully foxsports world will track his progress once and a while. Go ahead Freddy prove them haters wrong!!

Posted by: Peter | August 3, 2007 1:26 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad to see some passion lighting up the soccer boards. People can love or hate Freddy all they want. In the end, we're all wasting our time (when we should be working... :) loving or hating someone for being able to do what we can't.
So, love him or hate him...


I REALLY hope that this move helps you and you can become the player our NT needs you to be.

Posted by: I like the fire | August 3, 2007 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Goff-- that's a Nick Lowe song.

Posted by: Chris K | August 3, 2007 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Technically speaking, it was Nick Lowe who wrote "(What's so Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding," but I'm sure he doesn't mind EC making the song so popular.

Posted by: JJH | August 3, 2007 3:12 PM | Report abuse

My bad for not acknowledging the song writer (and a great one at that), but indeed, I will always remember hearing Elvis Costello sing it.

Posted by: Goff | August 3, 2007 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Go Fro! Go Mason!

Posted by: patriot | August 3, 2007 7:42 PM | Report abuse

Benfica is a good club in a solid league that has had a resurgence of late. In many ways, it is like the Eredivisie: 3 giants and a bunch of minnows, most of which play a fairly technical brand of footy. I think the Eredivisie prepares one better for the EPL (partly because of the physical stature of Dutch players and the lousy weather), but the SuperLiga should definitely improve Freddy's skills (maybe for Spain?).

As for whether Freddy will succeed, who knows. I do not think the kid will become a great footballer, but he should be a decent pro. He's not very fast; he's not physically impressve; and his best attributes, his technical skills, are similar to those of many young players from Latin America. The American media made a big stink out of him because he was one of the few Americans who has such skills and showed them at the tender age of 14. But at 18, he has not shown whether he can control a game at the professional level. One of the prior comments about how Freddy ranked in the top 5 for DC in various offensive categories was not much of a comment. One would hope that one of your offensive players (one who started in his last season here and who played quite a few minutes in his prior seasons, especially the 2nd) are in the top 5. You do not expect the likes of your goalkeeper, the back 3 (in a 3-5-2), and the defensive-minded Olsen and Carroll to be notching goals and assists. (You can stick the "can't cross effectively" Josh Gros in there as well.) So yeah, I would expect Freddy to have been in the top 5 for offensive categories for DC United. Big deal.

A lot of Freddy defenders want to talk about how young he is and we shouldn't put too much stock in his MLS pro career, and there is some truth to that. But note that several footballers became stars or had some great professional moments that catapulted them into the pantheon of "clearly destined to become stars" by the time they were 18: Cesc Fabregas, Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney, Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, Pele, Maradona, Maldini. There are others. I do not think we can say that about Freddy, despite his performances at the U-20, which IMHO, is not really on the level of, oh, playing for your national team and winning the World Cup like Pele in 1958 or representing AC Milan in Serie A, or Arsenal in the EPL on a weekly basis.

We'll know whether Freddy is an all-star or not soon enough. He's basically got the next 2 years to prove it. If he hasn't demonstrated some all-star brilliance by then against serious competition (that is, Champions League, Porto or Sporting), I doubt he ever will.

Posted by: highbury | August 3, 2007 11:19 PM | Report abuse

Highbury you mention all those great players and you make a good argument but those players also played with great talent around them. You can't throw a player out there and expect them to turn it on. A player like Adu relies heavily on the runs and passes of his teammates.

Posted by: Nani | August 4, 2007 1:37 AM | Report abuse

"American fans are really quick to just turn their backs on their players...why?"


No, actually we don't, believe it or not the guys ripping Adu in this thread don't speak for the entire country.


"A lot of Freddy defenders want to talk about how young he is and we shouldn't put too much stock in his MLS pro career, and there is some truth to that. But note that several footballers became stars or had some great professional moments that catapulted them into the pantheon of "clearly destined to become stars" by the time they were 18: Cesc Fabregas, Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney, Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, Pele, Maradona, Maldini. There are others. I do not think we can say that about Freddy, despite his performances at the U-20, which IMHO, is not really on the level of, oh, playing for your national team and winning the World Cup like Pele in 1958 or representing AC Milan in Serie A, or Arsenal in the EPL on a weekly basis."


Do you want a list of great footballers who weren't anywhere near what they'd become when they were 18? It's a lot longer than the list of guys you provided.

Do you really believe that if he's not an "All-Star" (whatever that means) in Europe by 20 then he's plateaud and ready to be written off? That's absurd. In two years if he's starting for his club and playing well he should be satisfied with his progress. Of course that won't satisfy the haters who will never be happy with anything less than Pele, Messi, or Cristiano Ronaldo....from an 18yr old product of the American soccer system...jesus.

Thank god the kid has a decent head on his shoulders and doesn't take this kind of hair-trigger bashing from "fans" too close to heart, or he'd never keep the confidence necessary to play high-quality ball.

He's a good player, not great. But he's 18! Give him a little slack for god's sake. He's got a lot of prime development years ahead of him. The continental playing style and the first class training environment at Benefica should help his growth.

Personally I wish him all the best.

Good luck Freddy

Posted by: uranderson | August 4, 2007 1:55 AM | Report abuse

$2m is nothing. Liverpool have packed their youth squad with players who cost that or more. Benfica is a good team in a second rate European league. Adu is a player who is skillful with the ball, but awful off the ball. a player who (most of the time) simply does not work for the team, but expects the team to work for him. Will this work out for him? maybe, but only if he works at it, or else he'll be just another in a very very long line of kids who looked like champions and never made the grade.

My bet, he'll have a career as amiddling pro in middling leagues because he can't get over his big head. Not his fault, the fault of the adults who should have known better when they were hyping him at 14.

Posted by: hertsred | August 4, 2007 5:45 AM | Report abuse

He's...only...18, signed for one of the biggest teams, in a big league, in the biggest footballing environment in the world. Why do people sound disappointed with his progress? They are a part of the CL this year and are 19th on the UEFA coefficient list. He's not even 20 yet people and he's managed to carry himself with dignity and land himself in a relevant league in Europe.

Why shouldn't a player with his talent, that is still developing and finding his game not clash with his coaches, especially if said player is played outside of his natural position. Seems that Adu carries a ton of confidence, creativity, and flair with his game. Say what you want about the competition at the U-20's but it was really the first time I got REALLY excited watching US soccer player in a longtime. Watch the Poland game clip on youtube. Even though some of it includes some showboating and an almost fumbled goal chance, tell me you're not excited at the prospect of him developing further and sending one of those through balls forward in South Africa with a straight face.

Posted by: Mike | August 4, 2007 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Nani, you make a good point, but it is not as if Freddy were playing with a bunch of stiffs at DC, particularly on the offensive end. Real Salt Lake, okay. Moreover, some of the players I noted did not necessarily play with sterling talent when they hit the scene. Rooney made noise in the EPL at Everton with very minimal help. Aguero was playing for a mediocre Independiente when people realized this kid could be great (I'm not sold, though I put his name out there) and Higuain's River Plate was all over the place. And Argentinos Juniors, while it bred Maradona, has never been much of a club outside of the mid 80s (incredibly after Maradona left).

The 18 year old comment is for all those people who think you cannot judge Freddy at all because, booh hoo, he's only 18. I am saying, yes you can. Even at 18, true great talent can be demonstrated and acknowledged. The point about Freddy Adu is that IMHO, he's not the Second Coming that so many people thought or are still willing to think he is. I believe he can be a decent pro (as I clearly note in my prior message), but nothing on the level of what so many people on this blog seem to think he is or can be.

Within 2 years, we will know even better whether he is a true future all-star, i.e., a Messi, or another young, promising player that never amounted to the expectations placed on him. And yes, within 2 years of European football, I do think a more definite answer on Adu's career success (i.e., a true future all-star) or lack thereof can be gauged. Adu will be more physically mature and he will have been tested against some wily, technical pros. It is put up or shut up time. And by 20 or so, many if not most of the "allstars" that people think of were playing first team ball for major clubs and doing well. Platini, Beckenbauer, Eusebio, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Cristiano Ronaldo, etc. Let us see with Freddy. My feeling is that he won't be an allstar, but a serviceable pro. Nothing bad about that; just don't make him out to be more than what he is.

Posted by: highbury | August 4, 2007 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Who is saying that you can't judge Freddy because he is only 18? Of course you can--you just have to judge him as an 18 year old. Obviously, one expects different things from an 18 year old developing prospect than from a 27 year old veteran. From that standpoint, I think Freddy has done well, is doing well, and will hopefully continue to develop.

Posted by: philofutbol | August 5, 2007 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Thank you for that last comment. If you want to overlook the way he's handle himself under the spotlight and hype, which has been very well, at least give him the chance to develop and play before you call him a bust. Again I don't know how he can be considered a bust considering his age and where he will be playing this year.

Saying he isn't as good as Ronaldhino, Beckenbauer, Ronaldo, or any other football great you pull out of the air when they were 18 isn't proving any point. First, I don't think anyone is going to state as fact with a straight face that the system he came up in is anywhere near the systems these players from footballing nations came up in. Second, if we're going to spend our time saying Adu isn't an 18 year old Pele or Messi, how is he ever going to satisfy anyone? I'm sorry, but maybe its the American in me, but most of us don't make determinations on someone's career when they are only 18.

So, one more time, everyone breath and say it with me...he's...only...18.

Posted by: Mike | August 6, 2007 3:12 AM | Report abuse

I love the people who claim Freddy did "nothing" in MLS. Are you serious? The kid came into the league at 14 and left DC at 16! Did you really think he was going to waltz into the professional level at that age and dominate? WTF, get a clue. Still, Freddy was always dangerous, set up a lot of goals and scored more than a few (6 at age 14 ain't bad). And he was always playing out of position in DC and SLC. Freddy's going to make the doubters and those with truly unrealistic expectations eat their words. He'll be a fixture on the national level and he'll probably start in the next WC. Bet on it.

Posted by: GoFreddy | August 6, 2007 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Let's be real and honest. Yes Freddy is a naturalized American but deep down he is Ghanean and earned all his mad skills in the dirt streets of Ghana and not in the USA. Ofcourse USA will take credit for that but if you want to be real the man is from Ghana and credit should go to his native country....

Posted by: Soccer Fan | August 7, 2007 11:56 AM | Report abuse

I've been watching Freddy from his first minutes in DC, and after seeing his juke in the 2004 All Star game, I've been a fan. God knows our nat'l team could use a shot in the arm. Here's hoping Freddy continues to develop and we see him on the Nat'l team ASAP. Best of luck to him. Plus, I'm still waiting for my bobblehead to accrue...

Posted by: bobblehead | August 8, 2007 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Can always call Dishnetwork and subscribe to SPT (Portuguese Channel) if you really want to see Adu. It's $20 per month but you see 4-5 games per weekend and you always get to watch the big 3 (Porto, Benfica, and Sporting).

Posted by: Benfica games on TV | August 8, 2007 12:20 PM | Report abuse

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