Fro Adu was angry when he launched himself toward the Landon School striker he had been doggedly defending for more than an hour. He took out the player's legs with a slide tackle and drew a yellow card for the foul. It was an uncharacteristic outburst for the Georgetown Prep central defender, whose greatest strength, his coaches and friends agree, is his unflappable composure.
The lanky sophomore later explained that his opponent's trash talking had driven him over the edge.
"They use Freddy against me when we're playing, saying stuff like, 'Your brother is better than you,' " Fro Adu said. "I say back, 'Of course he's better than me. He's 15 and he's playing pro.' "
Fro Adu was referring to his older brother, Freddy Adu, the midfielder-forward who plays for D.C. United.
Separated by two years, the Adus are "like twins," who shared the same bedroom until recently, their mother Emelia said. They also bear a strong resemblance to each other. Fro Adu has the same dazzling smile Freddy sports in television commercials, dresses impeccably like his brother and exudes the same poise that has made Freddy the poster boy for Major League Soccer.
They even have the same first and last names, a cultural tradition. Both brothers are named Fredua Adu -- Fro's middle name is Akoto; Freddy's is Koranteng.
But that's where the similarities end.
Fro plays defense, Freddy is a forward. Fro is 5 feet 10 and has a slight build, Freddy is about four inches shorter and is more defined physically.
There is another key difference: Fro is one of the best players at his high school; Freddy, soccer experts predict, might blossom into one of America's all-time greats.
Fro Adu, just 13 years old, faces a daily challenge as he grows up and tries to forge his own identity in the shadow of his famous brother. But he insists that he feels no pressure and is not jealous of his brother. Which is why he gets so frustrated when opponents taunt him.
"Sometimes I feel bad for him," Freddy Adu said. "He gets a lot grief from certain people because I'm his brother. His classmates love him, but when he steps on the soccer field, people are always saying, 'You're not as good as Freddy. You're never going to be this, you're never going to be that.' "
Said Arnold Tarzy, a close family friend who has coached both Freddy and Fro as members of the Potomac Cougars club team: "Fro is not his brother and he doesn't want to be his brother. Fro's his own person. People who know Fro never refer to him as Freddy's brother. He's just Fro. . . . I've never for one moment ever seen him look at Freddy with anything but pride."
"Everybody thinks I'm jealous of Freddy, but I'm not," Fro Adu said. "I'm proud of Freddy, I look up to Freddy. He is my role model. We're two different players. So there's nothing for us to compete about. . . . I hope that when I'm older I get the chance to play against him. I hope it will be up to me to stop him" in a game.
It's probably too early in Fro Adu's development to know whether a professional career is in his future; a scholarship to a top Division I university seems likely. Last summer, Fro Adu was invited to train with the U.S. under-17 national team's residency program in Bradenton, Fla., the place where Freddy's prodigious talent was first recognized. Fro Adu probably won't be heading to Florida right away because Emelia does not think he is ready.
"Our family wants him to remain in school," she said. Asked whether she might reconsider later, she said, "I haven't made up my mind."
Freddy Adu, for one, hopes to see Fro follow in his footsteps to Bradenton.
"He's a great kid and a great player," Freddy said after a recent United game at RFK Stadium. "He learns fast. If he goes down to Bradenton, I have full confidence in him becoming a professional. That's what I see for him."
For now, Fro Adu competes against America's soccer superstar on a regular basis -- at home, where they play the FIFA 2004 video game on Xbox for hours. When their thumbs get tired, they switch to table tennis or billiards.
"Anything that involves competition, Freddy usually wins," Fro said. "We once played FIFA 2004 so long, for like hours. Freddy won in penalty kicks."
Freddy said, "We have a lot of fun together, always joking around, just like any brothers."
Although their lives revolve around a soccer ball, the Adu brothers rarely, if ever, get to kick a real one around anymore with each other. Fro's schedule is almost as busy as Freddy's, and when they do spend time with one another, it's usually at the dinner table.
"At the end of the day, we're both tired," Fro Adu said.
Freddy made time earlier this month to see Fro play for Georgetown Prep against St. Benedict's of New Jersey, then the No. 1-ranked team in the nation. As Freddy Adu looked for a seat in the crowded stands, he cupped his hands over his mouth and barked, "Go Fro!" His arrival caused a small stir among the spectators.
Fro Adu didn't disappoint his older brother. Despite constant pressure from St. Benedict's -- a school whose legendary program has produced American soccer standouts Tab Ramos, Claudio Reyna and Gregg Berhalter -- Fro Adu made several key defensive stops in the second half to help the Little Hoyas gain a 2-1 victory in Rockville.
"I was there screaming my head off," Freddy Adu said. "That was the first time I saw him play [for Prep]. He asked me specifically to come that game because he knew it was the biggest game of the year for them. He did great. It was a big win."
Fro Adu, like Freddy, was introduced to soccer on a sandlot in Ghana, where they played pickup, barefoot, against much older boys.
When the Adus emigrated to the United States seven years ago, Freddy almost immediately began playing organized soccer. Fro needed some convincing. But after some prodding from Freddy and Tarzy, Fro Adu joined the Potomac Cougars, the squad the older Adu helped win a national title in 2001.
"Freddy was outside practicing every day," Fro Adu said. "He was really into it, that's why he got so good. But me, I wasn't that into soccer at first. I was kind of lazy. Freddy pushed me, which was a good thing."
Fro Adu, who started school early and skipped the sixth grade at The Heights School, still didn't take soccer seriously until the summer following his eighth grade year. He played and officiated soccer games -- he became a certified soccer referee about three years ago to get a better grasp of the rules and see the game from a different perspective -- and transferred to Georgetown Prep.
At Prep, traditionally one of the top programs in the prestigious Interstate Athletic Conference, Fro Adu moved into the starting lineup as a freshman. Since then, his game has improved dramatically.
"If you want to know what kind of player Fro is," Georgetown Prep Coach Guy Fraiture said, "look at him when the ball is not near him. He's like a magnet. The ball always comes to him. It's because he reads the game better than anyone. Everything he does, he does for a purpose."
He has become one of the Little Hoyas' leaders, Fraiture said, helping the second-ranked Little Hoyas to an 8-2-1 mark this fall.
In other words, the other Fredua Adu is making a name for himself.
"I've told him to stand up for yourself, be your own person," Freddy Adu said. "Don't try to be like anyone else, and he's doing that. I love that about him."