June 22, 2011
MAKING THE MOST OF IT
In his first action of the Gold Cup, Adu plays a vital role in winning goal
HOUSTON -- After not seeing a moment of action in the opening four matches of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, Freddy Adu was called on by U.S. coach Bob Bradley in the second half against Panama at Reliant Stadium on Wednesday night.
Adu, who made his first international appearance in two years, did not disappoint, helping set up the lone goal by Clint Dempsey in a 1-0 win over Panama in the semifinals.
His last game with the national side was in 2009.
To say that Adu had fallen off the map would be an understatement. Proclaimed the savior of soccer in the United States when he signed with Major League Soccer as a 14-year-old in 2003, Adu had ridiculous expectations placed on his shoulders. He eventually left MLS for Europe, where he has struggled to catch on with a team.
He played on loan with Caykur Rizespor of the Turkish Second Division last season.
U.S. coach Bob Bradley decided to bring Adu, now 22-years-old, into the team for the Gold Cup to see how he has progressed.
Adu did not give interviews to the media before Wednesday night as he talked about the significance of getting an opportunity to play.
”It was very important for me, personally, and very important for the team," Adu said. "I haven’t stepped on the field for the national team in over two years. To get a chance to be out there, I was very happy and very fortunate. The goal as a substitute is to get out there and bring a lot of energy and make a difference. It worked out well.”
Adu replaced Juan Agudelo in the 66th minute. He moved into a midfield slot while Clint Dempsey switched from the middle to a forward position.
Eleven minutes after he entered the game, Adu found himself in the middle of a counterattack. He found Landon Donovan on the right flank. Donovan, in turn, sent a pin-point pass to Dempsey, who scored at the left far post.
“We’ve had some similar plays in training," Adu said. "Landon is a player that knows the right runs to make. I had seen him before I got the ball, and had to put the ball in his path and I knew he was going to get there.”
Donovan credited Adu and Dempsey on the goal.
“It was a good play," he said. "We got out of our end well. I made a run forward and I wasn’t sure that Freddy saw me, but he played a great ball. My first thought was to hit it first time to Clint, but I saw the defender back off so I wanted to be aggressive. I ran at him, and Clint and I made good eye contact. I knew if it was going to get there I had to hit it hard. Clint made a great play to get his foot on it.”