Potomac's Freddy Adu waited more than five years to represent the United States on a soccer field. He needed about five minutes in his international debut last night to make an impact.
The unveiling of the 13-year-old forward came at Estadio Mateo Flores in Guatemala City, where Adu set up a goal in the fifth minute and scored on an impressive individual effort in the closing moments as the U.S. under-17 national team defeated Jamaica, 3-0, at the world championship qualifying tournament.
Adu, who moved with his family to the United States from Ghana in 1997, had not been allowed to play for the American squad in an official international match until he became a U.S. citizen. That procedure was finalized about a month ago.
By starting last night, Adu became the youngest player to represent U.S. soccer in world competition.
"I was nervous going into the game, playing my first international game that really meant something," said Adu, whose exploits in youth tournaments and exhibitions have attracted scouts from prestigious European clubs. "But once the game got going, I just started playing and I settled into my normal game. I thought overall we played well, especially our defense. We shut them down, they didn't really create any dangerous chances."
Early in last night's match, Adu beat two defenders on the left side and crossed to Virginia Beach's Corey Ashe, who scored from six yards for a 1-0 lead.
In the 37th minute, Adu played a short corner kick to Guillermo Gonzalez, whose cross was headed into the net by John DiRaimondo for a 2-0 advantage. (Adu took all of the U.S. team's corner kicks.)
He struck again with time about to expire. He collected an outlet pass from goalie Phil Marfuggi, made a long counterattacking run into Jamaica's end and went around the charging goalie. Several defenders had rushed back to protect the net, but Adu slalomed past them and scored from six yards.
The score came after a near-goal earlier in the half when Adu made a nice run into the penalty area but had his 16-yard shot was stopped by goalkeeper Kerr Duwayne.
Jamaica had to play a man short for the final 21 minutes after Andrew Fraser received his second yellow card and an automatic ejection.
The U.S. squad will play El Salvador on Friday night and Guatemala on Sunday afternoon, with the winner of the four-team group earning an automatic berth in the world championship tournament in Finland in August.
United, Fire Scoreless
D.C. United opened its Major League Soccer preseason schedule by playing a scoreless tie with the Chicago Fire in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Rookie goalkeeper Doug Warren, starting in place of the injured Nick Rimando, made a few excellent saves for the shutout. Rimando is close to returning to regular duty after spraining an ankle a few weeks ago.
Chicago goalkeeper Zach Thornton made solid saves on United newcomers Earnie Stewart and Hristo Stoitchkov.
Late in the first half, Stoitchkov suffered a concussion and bloody nose when he collided with the 6-foot-3, 230-pound Thornton. He did not return in the second half and was replaced in the lineup by rookie forward Alecko Eskandarian.
Spanish midfielder Mario Rosas, invited to camp on a trial basis this week, played the final 25 minutes, replacing Marco Etcheverry.
United (4-0 against college teams last month) will play Columbus on Saturday at the Orange Bowl in Miami.