It's a Win-Win for Adu and United

Freddy Adu
"I just felt it was time to move on and put myself in a situation where I could play my best position to grow as a player," Freddy Adu said. "Unfortunately, it wasn't going to happen in D.C." (Joel Richardson - The Post)

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By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 13, 2006

When his third professional season ended five weeks ago, Freddy Adu looked at his future with D.C. United and did not like what he saw. He concluded that his chances of moving into central midfield, the spot he considers his natural position, were grim. He realized he would always be a secondary option behind United's more veteran players and that the only way to enhance his stalled career would be to leave.

His wish was granted Monday, when he was traded to Real Salt Lake as part of a complex deal involving three players, the shifting of player acquisition money and a possible draft pick.

"I just felt it was time to move on and put myself in a situation where I could play my best position and continue to grow as a player," Adu said in a telephone interview yesterday from Utah, where he attended a news conference and toured Real Salt Lake's facilities.

"Unfortunately, it wasn't going to happen in D.C. I'm just glad [United] was able to accommodate me and make it happen."

Adu, 17, said he had grown frustrated playing as a wing in United Coach Peter Nowak's system and wanted the opportunity to move into the middle, a spot held by Christian Gomez, the MLS most valuable player this past season. Under Real Coach John Ellinger, who oversaw Adu's development in the national youth system before he joined United, Adu will have that opportunity.

"Christian is a great player and they weren't going to change anything," Adu said. "I think I got better [on the wing], but that's not where I'm at my best. I wasn't happy, but I just kept my mouth shut, didn't complain and kept working at it. But I'm at a point in my career where I need to play in my best position."

Nowak has not granted any interviews since the trade was announced, but his top assistant, Tom Soehn, said: "Freddy wanted a new role and he couldn't accomplish it here."

Adu's former teammates were aware of his dissatisfaction.

"He's one of those players who grew up getting what he wanted in terms of where he wanted to play," goalkeeper Troy Perkins said. "He did well with it, but on our team, he wasn't going to move ahead of Christian.

"We obviously needed him on the outside. He hated it and didn't understand the concept of it. You could see the way it affected him."

On the surface, the trade did not yield many tangible returns for United: unproven goalkeeper Jay Nolly, a possible future draft pick, the rights to acquire an international player through an allocation from MLS this winter, and money to put toward a player acquisition if Adu ends up in Europe.

In the long run, however, the club could benefit significantly. From United's perspective, the most important element is the allocation, which is "very valuable because you can use it in so many ways," team president Kevin Payne said.


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