March 23, 2012
By Michael Lewis
MUCH ADO ABOUT SOMETHING
Adu, now, 22, finds his form for U.S. U-23 team in 6-0 win over Cuba
NASHVILLE -- Remember little Freddy Adu?
Well, has grown a bit since then, not necessarily in size, but in stature, for at least one U.S. National Team.
He has matured as a player signce he signed a much ballyhooed- contract with Major League Soccer and D.C. United as a precocious 14-year-old midfielder in 2003 who was supposed to turned things upside down for American soccer.
It didn't happen.
But literally left his own imprints on the game in the U.S.'s 6-0 victory over Cuba in its opening match of CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament.
On Thursday, 22-year-old Adu led the Americans out of the tunnel and onto the LP Field as captain of a team that wants to book a spot in London this summer.
“It was great. It was nice walking out there as the captain of the team. It’s a great honor, obviously, and it was nice to get this first game out of the way. That’s a game you always look forward to.
"Guys are a little bit nervous, but it was nice as soon as we played the first 15-20 minutes, we settled down and we started playing a little bit.”
If Adu was nervous, he did not show it, forming a five-point attack that included Joe Corona (hat-trick), Juan Agudelo, Brek Shea and Mix Diskerud.
"He’s really flourishing in the way we’re playing," U.S. coach Caleb Porter said. "We like him on that right side, but he comes inside as a second attacking midfielder at times and finds pockets of space. It’s difficult to pick him up in that kind of position because he can sit in seams and between the layers. He’s tough to deal with. He’s very technical. He can play a final pass, and he can score."
Adu demonstrated his playmaking and scoring abilities in the game.
The Philadelphia Union midfielder set up the U.S.'s first goal in the 11th minute. He sent a 45-yard free kick into the penalty area. Juan Agudelo collided with goalkeeper Odisnel Cooper as he managed to get a piece of the ball. The ball came out to Corona, who finished from 10 yards.
“It was huge," Adu said. "Playing a team like Cuba, they defended pretty well. They sit behind the ball and they work hard moving side to side and defending. As soon as you get that first goal, it’s a huge sigh of relief because the game is going to open up. Now they have to come out and play.”
Later, it was time for a spectacular 25-yard goal in the 63rd minute.
“As soon as it left my foot, I was like, ‘Whoa,’ " Adu said. "I just hit that as clean as you could hit it, and luckily it was on target and to the corner as well. Definitely one of the best goals I’ve scored.”
Adu will have an opportunity to top that against Canada in the second game of qualifying against Canada on Saturday night.