By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Freddy Adu's suspension is over.
The 16-year-old forward, who did not play in D.C. United's MLS playoff opener Friday in Chicago, will be in uniform this Sunday at RFK Stadium when the club faces the Chicago Fire in the finale of their first-round series.
"As far as the club is concerned, this issue is behind us and we're eagerly awaiting Sunday's game," United spokesman Doug Hicks said yesterday. "He will train all week and we expect him to be available for Sunday."
Adu traveled with the team to Chicago last week but was suspended on the day of the game because, according to sources close to the situation, he didn't apologize for comments he made last Tuesday in which he expressed disappointment with his playing time and suggested he might be better off elsewhere next year.
Coach Peter Nowak, with the backing of United President Kevin Payne and technical director Dave Kasper, had given Adu until the pregame meal Friday to address the team as a whole. When he did not do that, Nowak suspended him before the 0-0 tie at Soldier Field.
At the time, Nowak and other team officials declined to say whether the suspension would carry over to this week.
Kasper said yesterday, "To the best of my knowledge, he did not meet with the whole team today, but I do know he has talked to a lot of players individually."
As for the team's preparations, "It's business as usual for us."
Adu and Nowak weren't available to comment.
Whether Adu will actually play this weekend remains uncertain. If United is at full strength, the teenager will have only an outside chance of being named a starter. Defensive midfielder Ben Olsen is the only regular nursing an injury -- a strained calf that prevented him from playing in Game 1 against the Fire -- and Adu does not play his position.
The most likely scenario is for Adu to enter in the second half, though the score and pace of the match at that time will play a large role in Nowak's decision.
United, the MLS leader in goals during the regular season, could have used Adu's attacking skills Friday, when it failed to register a shot on goal and had only four shots overall.
Until the suspension, Adu had played in every game for which he was available this season (25). He had made 16 starts, averaged almost 60 minutes per appearance (two-thirds of a game) and contributed four goals and six assists.
"It's ancient history and we move on," Payne said of last week's uproar. "From what I've heard, Freddy had a good day of training and he's looking forward to this weekend."
The winner of Sunday's match will advance to the Eastern Conference final, most likely on Sunday, Nov. 6, for national TV purposes, against the New England Revolution or New York/New Jersey MetroStars. The MetroStars won the first game of their series, 1-0, and will play the finale Saturday night at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.
If United and the Fire play to another tie, a 30-minute overtime and, if necessary, penalty kicks will decide the winner.
United Notes: Olsen did not practice yesterday and his status is considered day to day. . . . At the team's awards banquet held at a downtown hotel last night, Argentine midfielder Christian Gomez (11 goals, nine assists) was named the team's most valuable player; goalkeeper Nick Rimando the top defensive player; and defender Bobby Boswell the top rookie and humanitarian of the year.
Midfielder Brian Carroll was given the coaches' award and forward Jaime Moreno received the Golden Boot award for leading the team in scoring (16 goals, seven assists).