D.C. United teenager Freddy Adu said yesterday that he overreacted last weekend when he complained about his recent lack of playing time and that he and Coach Peter Nowak have had constructive conversations about his role this week.
Adu, who turned 15 a month ago, played a season-low 14 minutes during Saturday's 1-1 tie with the Dallas Burn -- the third straight game he's played less than 30 minutes. Afterward, he told reporters at the Cotton Bowl that he was disappointed how late he had been entering games and that he found it difficult to contribute in those late stages.
Yesterday, however, he said, "I was [frustrated] because it was after the game and I wasn't really thinking. I was mad. But we talked about it, resolved the situation and now everything is back to normal.
"[Nowak] just told me to be patient. He's just trying to help me out, he's on my side. So now I'm going to just try to stay calm and be patient and when I do get my chance, I take advantage of it. I've just got to work hard, keep my mouth shut and play both sides of the ball, and everyone will respect you."
Nowak, who said yesterday that he wasn't aware of Adu's comments on Saturday, has brought Adu along slowly, using him as a substitute in the first four games of the season before rewarding him with three straight starts. He returned to the bench for the next two matches, started two more, then slipped back to a reserve role the past three weeks.
This Saturday, when United (4-5-5) plays the New York/New Jersey MetroStars (5-5-4) at RFK Stadium, Adu will likely again be a reserve behind Alecko Eskandarian (three goals in the past two games) and Jaime Moreno, the club's most influential player. However, Adu could be inserted into midfield, where he was effective during yesterday's workouts.
"The most important thing is what kind of mentality are you going to bring to this game," Nowak said. "Do you just want to be around players, or do you want to make a difference? . . . If you approach with that mentality, 'Oh, I'm sitting on the bench and I'm not going to do anything,' you're not going to make a difference.
"[Adu] is supposed to know. I've told him many times. I've told everyone. I expect everyone is going to show up and give something that's going to make this team better, whether it's two minutes, 30 seconds or 90 minutes."
Nowak, in his first year, said he talks with Adu all the time about his role and is pleased with his young player's progress. It's normal, Nowak said, for players to want more minutes, noting that Eskandarian expressed frustration at his lack of time earlier in the season.
"He's still a very young kid," Nowak said of Adu, whose two goals and one assist tie him for fourth on the team in points (five). "We have to understand his way, respect his way and then talk and keep him positive. I still feel he's a great young man and a special player. I know Freddy understands my way and understands how we work here."
Meantime, Adu's mother, Emilia, said she has been surprised by some of the media criticism of her son.
"They should leave the boy alone," she said. "He's a kid. This is just the beginning. He's playing against grown-ups. Everyone who understands soccer knows he'll be okay."
United Notes: The club untangled its goalkeeping situation by waiving Doug Warren, who lost a preseason battle for the starting job with Nick Rimando and then slipped behind undrafted rookie Troy Perkins on the depth chart.
Team officials said Warren chose to be waived and pursue other opportunities rather than accept a reduced salary. Warren, in his second season, allowed three goals against the Metro- Stars in April in his only start.
With Warren gone just before MLS contracts become guaranteed, Perkins's deal will soon be upgraded from developmental (which paid him only $850 per month) to a standard senior contract (which, in his case, will probably be worth $25,000 annually).
Perkins took the starting job after Rimando faltered early in the year and then again in May. . . .
Uruguayan forward Claudio Ciccia, a big scorer in the Costa Rican league, is in town all week on a tryout. . . . Midfielder Bobby Convey was named to the U.S. national team roster for the July 11 friendly against Poland in Chicago. . . . Richmond will be United's U.S. Open Cup round-of-16 opponent on July 21 after the Kickers defeated Cape Cod, 1-0, last night.