Freddy Adu finally appears to have found some stability.
The Tampa Bay Rowdies, which he joined in July, was Adu’s sixth team in three years (not including unsuccessful trials). Now he’ll be staying in central Florida for at least another season after agreeing to a new contract with the NASL club, SI.com understands. The Rowdies chose not to exercise the option they held for the 2016 campaign and instead offered the 26-year-old veteran a new deal that may cover multiple seasons. An official announcement is expected as early as Tuesday. [UPDATE: The Rowdies confirmed Adu's signing on Tuesday, a one-year deal with a club option for 2017].
Adu struggled with injuries and fitness after moving to Tampa Bay but found some form toward the end of the 2015 season. He finished with three assists in eight games (six starts) playing as either an attacking midfielder or withdrawn forward. On Oct. 10, he punctuated his return with this outstanding scoop pass to Brian Shriver for an 88th-minute equalizer against the Ottawa Fury.
The Rowdies finished 10-11-9 (spring, fall seasons combined) and missed the NASL playoffs by two points. The surprising August dismissal of head coach Thomas Rongen, whose relationship with Adu was a key component of the player’s decision to sign with Tampa Bay, led to questions about his future with the team. But Rongen’s successor, former Rowdies defender and assistant coach Stuart Campbell, maintained the departed manager’s commitment to Adu and started him in each of the season’s final six contests.
That run of games was significant for a player who struggled to find a foothold after leaving the Philadelphia Union in early 2013. Adu spent seven months in Brazil with Bahia, then moved on to FK Jagodina in Serbia and KuPS in Finland. From the end of the 2012 MLS season to his Rowdies debut this July, he played in only 14 first-team matches.
Adu’s retention is the second piece of significant news for the Rowdies this week. On Monday, Tampa Bay announced the signing of forward Tom Heinemann, who powered Ottawa to a silver medal with 12 goals in 2015, including a pair in the 3-2 loss to the New York Cosmos in last month’s NASL final. Heinemann, who previously played for the Columbus Crew and Vancouver Whitecaps, inked a two-year deal that includes a club option covering 2018. The Rowdies haven’t announced whether last season’s leading scorer, Maicon Santos, will return in 2016.
Next season will be Adu’s 13th since turning pro as a 14-year-old with his hometown club, D.C. United. The Rowdies are his 13th team. He’s been capped 17 times by the U.S. and last appeared for the senior national team at the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup.