Why Freddy Adu must tough it out
Last week, when the resignation of AS Monaco president
For one, de Bontin was not just any club president. A friend of
More important to a fan, though, is the fact that de Bontin was
"I told [the manager] early on that it was important to my strategy in the years to come to have players from Asia and North America," de Bontin said to me last fall. "In fact, we made a short list out of which we would've taken two additional U.S. players had we not had those restrictions on non-European players."
Aside from Adu, de Bontin had also looked last summer at acquiring Chivas USA's
From the first moment, Adu's Monaco sojourn has been barely more successful than his year with Benfica. After making two substitute appearances in Portugal, he has appeared for the Monegasques just nine times, with no starts, no goals, no assists. And despite receiving kudos from his teammates for his work and mentality as well as praise from Juventus coach
How can this be? How can a player with such obvious potential -- anyone who watched the Under-20 World Cup in 2007 could see it -- not fulfill even a little bit of it? Can it be chalked up to the over-tactical defensiveness of Ligue 1? Disfavor with the manager? Playing out of position, as some have suggested? Or is it simply still too early to make any pronouncements?
When first thinking about this column, I assumed I would end up suggesting that Adu return to MLS. The move home makes sense. He's not developing his game on the bench at Monaco, his happy-go-lucky marketer's-dream shtick doesn't work in Europe, and if he has any desire to be part of the U.S. national team -- either the full team or the U-20s, who are taking part in the CONCACAF championship this week, qualifying for this fall's World Cup -- he needs to be playing regularly.
But after watching
To answer the earlier questions, the defensive tactics of Ligue 1 can be a burden for an improvisational playmaker like Adu, the way classical music can constrict a jazz cat. But then again, France has a long history of producing such ingenious attackers as
Is he out of favor with the coach? Perhaps. Except that
However, Ricardo insists on putting Adu on the flank rather than his preferred No. 10 role in the middle. Obviously, the Brazilian tactician doesn't think Adu -- who is not the best defender in the world -- isn't ready to be the heart of the side. So rather than lamenting this reality, Adu needs to adapt to the flank. Arguably, that is where the action is these days. Just look at the two best players in the world:
Most important, we should all bear in mind that he is only 19. He has many years ahead of him to fulfill his potential. From the moment he arrived on the scene with D.C. United in '04, Adu has carried accelerated expectations of greatness. Many, myself included, predicted he would be the "American Messi" -- forgetting that even in the long, glorious history of Argentine soccer, there have been only three or four players with Messi's talent.
So, Freddy, don't come home. Stay where you are, take your chances when Ricardo hands them out, and make it so he can't leave you on the bench anymore. Prove that you are more than a mechanism for selling jerseys to 14-year-olds in Peoria. If you do that, not only will you have the career you've long dreamed of, but you'll do more for the reputation of American players than you ever could've done by shooting straight to easy stardom.