On Tuesday, 14-year-old phenom Freddy Adu signed a six-year deal with Major League Soccer after being courted by many of Europe's top teams.
When Adu debuts for D.C. United next year, he is expected to become the youngest player to play for a U.S. professional top-level team in more than 100 years - since 14-year-old Fred Chapman debuted in Major League Baseball in 1887.
Freddy's signing with MLS is fantastic and to think it took place on the same day in 1989 that Paul Caligiuri sent the U.S. back to the World Cup after a 50-year hiatus with his goal against Trinidad! I believe Freddy is really 14 (why lie, if he were older he could have gone straight to Europe - non-EU players must be over 16), he will be a great footballer for D.C., MLS and the USMNT and his personality is going to make him the darling of the media.
MLS must be careful not to overexpose him or push him too quickly to the first team - he needs time to adjust. Soccer is going from enjoyment to a career for him and that needs to be taken seriously. However, if everything goes the way we all hope, I envision Adu coming onto the field in Germany in 2006 and scoring the type of goal that Owen scored for England against Argentina in 1998.
As a child of the NASL generation, I just can't believe how far we have come in 30 years and the next 10 look to be the most exciting yet - hang on and enjoy the ride fans!
Robert Elder, New York
I think this is amazing news for MLS. I have tried to follow MLS over the past couple years, but living in Seattle I don't really have any team to support. So when I watch MLS on TV, it's usually just to watch soccer. However, with the addition of Freddy Adu, ANY game with D.C. United will suddenly become a must see. Hopefully this will increase MLS' TV coverage by leaps and bounds, and take the league's popularity to new levels.
Jeff Extine, Oregon
MLS has its first star and can now begin to market itself across the country. Give the league two or three more players like Freddy [either domestic talent or from abroad] we'll start to see MLS making the cut for SportsCenter's top stories on a daily basis.
He seems to be a great player from what I have seen and he deserves the chance to show it against older, more seasoned veterans. He should be on the 2006 team. I just wonder about his age. He looks MUCH older than 14 years of age and his maturity level seems to also be that of a much older person.
I wish him good luck regardless, though. I am not much of a soccer fan but I know all about him. I guess that is a good sign for the MLS and U.S. soccer fans. Those of us who would be considered non-fans will tune in as well.
I think this is a great day for U.S. soccer! Adu will have plenty of time to play in Europe and make some big money, but he will get the playing time and experience that he needs to develop in MLS. It's better than sitting on a bench in Manchester! Should he be on the 2006 World Cup squad? If he earns it.
First and foremost let us not forget that he is 14. Yes, he has talent, that is a given but to anoint him as the one who will deliver soccer into the mainstream is a pipe dream at best. He is one in a long line of so called "saviors" who have been unable to play on one of any of the top european clubs (Howard not withstanding). Even Reyna who is arguably our top field player does not play for a top-flight team in the Premiership.
Only when one of our American born and bred players can not only play for, but also star for a top-flight team on the world stage will soccer become a glamorous sport in this country. America likes a winner and will settle for no less. If we cannot dominate, the public is not interested.
Remember it was not long ago when Landon Donovan was the end all, be all of American soccer, and he coudn't even play for Leverkusen's first squad.
Ken Kohnke, Illinois
I see this as a huge step in America developing a new-found interest in soccer. He is to America, the LeBron James of soccer. Not everybody who wants to see LeBron is a basketball fan. People will show up just to see a 14 year old compete and outshine grown men. I think it will be great for MLS.
First, I guarantee that attendance will significantly rise in all of D.C. United's games. Secondly, this kid was contacted by Inter Milan and other world soccer powers to sign for a substantial amount of money, so he is for real.
I feel that this signing could bring more notoriety to America and we will start to earn the respect of the rest of the world in soccer. With the right marketing, the United States may be able to bring in more world-class players and our world-class players will stay (ie. Tim Howard/ Manchester United goalkeeper formerly of the MetroStars). If properly handled, this signing, fresh off an incredible run in the World Cup, could revamp soccer in America in forever.
I really hope Adu makes a difference in MLS, and becames a good footballer, but please don't compare him to Pele. He has not won anything and in Brazil, my native country, there are bunch of good 14 year olds, you just don't hear about, plus some of them when they turn pro don't make it. So please don't compare him to Pele yet until he plays with grown men and leads a team to a championship. If he ever leads a team to a championship then praise him, but not now because he hasn't won anything yet!
This is a great signing for MLS, and I think Freddy will also be well served by staying in the States for now. Remaining close to home will be important for him to mature and develop skills, both on and off the pitch. Europe is a reality for him in the future, and when he is older, with more games under his belt -- as well as international caps with Bruce Arena -- that transcontinental move will be appropriate.
I doubt MLS can generate a LeBron James type of hype with Adu, the media outlets are not nearly as welcoming to soccer as they are to the NBA. But hopefully there will be some increased visibility for the Beautiful Game in the States now that MLS has a truly dynamic talent who can make non-soccer fans take note with highlight-reel moves.
I wish Freddy well. I have not had the pleasure of watching him play. I have read a lot of compliments about his skill, field sense, and maturity. My thought is about how he will be received by his teammates and other players throughout the league.
As rough and physical as the past MLS season has been, will Freddy be able to shake off the hits that he may/most likely receive? Physically, I would say, the average player in the MLS would dominate Freddy. Will he be able to protect himself against stronger and more experienced players? If he is injured early in his career, he may be on the bench for a long time or never return to soccer.
Also, I hope Freddy surrounds himself with people he can trust. With endorsement contracts coming at him, and many more to follow, he will need sound financial advice.
I wish Freddy the best of luck and more power to him.
The signing of Freddy Adu to MLS must be considered in perspective. He is not the first star the U.S. has generated. He is the next in a line of developing young American talent.
Yes, he possesses great talent and maturity. And yes he will change the face of the game in this country for the better, hopefully forever. If anything, we owe Adu gratitude for staying here to develop his craft. It's a win-win. Fans across the country, and indeed, the world will flock to see him play. It also sends a message to the international soccer community that MLS is capable of both retaining and developing top-notch talent.
Thanks, Freddy, for putting a personable face on the game in our country, and for doing so with grace and poise.
Kenn Gaither, North Carolina
I like what everyone is saying about the signing of Freddy Adu being a good thing for America and the MLS but I think that in the long run, it might not be so good.
I think the thing for Freddy would have been to sign with a European club and develop in their system. The reason for this is that the quality of play and players in Europe are unlimited times greater than in the U.S. If it weren't the case, then the top-notch foreign players would be coming to the U.S. to play in MLS but that isn't happening.
People look at Landon Donovan and see that he couldn't make it in Europe but this is just one example. Look at our goalkeepers for the U.S.: Howard, Freidel, and Keller all of whom start on Premiership clubs.
By allowing Freddy to develop in the European type of atmosphere and against those players, he will ultimately develop into a much greater player than he is today and can also bring worldwide attention to the U.S. if he were to later go back and play in MLS.