Atlanta Silverbacks manager Eric Wynalda is interested in bringing Freddy Adu to the NASL club. (Elaine Thompson/AP)
The NASL’s Atlanta Silverbacks are interested in signing Freddy Adu, Atlanta technical director Eric Wynalda tells SI.com.
Adu, the one-time sensation who became MLS’s highest-paid player at age 13 in 2003, has been training at English second-tier club Blackpool. But Blackpool announced on Wednesday that it will not be signing Adu, 24, who has played for nine clubs in 10 years.
Atlanta was the runner-up last year in the NASL, the U.S. second-tier league, falling to the New York Cosmos in the Soccer Bowl. The two sides open the 2014 season against one another, with former Cosmos and Brazil great Pele -- Adu was hyped as "The Next Pele" in some circles -- slated to be in attendance for the April 13 curtain-raiser.
“I think he can still play at a high level,” Wynalda, who will be managing the team on game days, says of Adu. “He proved to me he was capable of that against Mexico in the Gold Cup final [in 2011]. His ego can’t get in the way because the level will be questioned, but he needs to find a team that wants him, and I want him.”
Adu’s last team was Brazil’s Bahia, which did not renew his contract at the end of 2013. Though Adu has yet to establish consistency at the club level, he has had some positive moments playing for U.S. national teams, including in the 2011 Gold Cup. He started the ’11 final against Mexico and was one of the best U.S. players in a 4-2 defeat. He has not played for the U.S. senior side since, though he did take part in the 2012 Olympic qualifying effort with the U-23 side.