An Oct. 20 Sports article incorrectly described D.C. United soccer player Freddy Adu's shoulder injury as a sprain. Adu has a sore shoulder; his teammate Brian Carroll has a sprained shoulder. (Published 10/22/04)

When Freddy Adu crashed to the RFK Stadium turf after getting undercut by a defender Sunday evening, his mother, Emelia, leapt from her seat on the mezzanine level.

"Meba no awu!" she shouted in Twi, the family's Ghanaian dialect.

Translation: "My son is dead."

Adu's spectacular fall onto his upper back, an incident that was replayed on highlight shows across the country, left him with a first degree sprain to his right shoulder, D.C. United officials confirmed yesterday. However, athletic trainer Brian Goodstein said the 15-year-old forward-midfielder should be able to play in Saturday's playoff opener against the MetroStars at Giants Stadium.

"It hurts so bad right now," said Adu, who will receive treatment all week. "I'm definitely sore, but I should be okay."

With United at full strength and playing well, Adu probably wouldn't start this weekend whether or not he is healthy. On Sunday, he made his second start in the last six weeks (and registered two assists), but that was because midfielders Dema Kovalenko and Josh Gros were serving one-game suspensions. Both will likely return to the lineup for Game 1 of the playoffs.

Despite his small build, Adu has been able to avoid serious injury in his rookie season and was one of only two United players to appear in all 30 matches. He finished the regular season with five goals (third-most on the team) and three assists (tied for sixth).

But there was serious concern about his health midway through the second half Sunday, when Craig Ziadie couldn't stop his momentum and crashed into the leaping Adu in front of the United bench. Adu flipped backward and landed hard on his neck and shoulder, drawing gasps from the home crowd.

"It was so scary," Emelia Adu said. "I was very, very worried."

Team officials said Adu's eyes were closed when they reached him, but after regaining his senses a few seconds later, he passed standard cognitive tests. As a precaution, Coach Peter Nowak removed him from the game.

Said team President Kevin Payne, "After the game I asked him how he was, and he said, 'Don't worry about me, I'm a strong African man.' "

United Notes: Midfielder Christian Gomez, who had two goals on Sunday, was named MLS player of the week. . . . Forward Jaime Moreno was named the team's most valuable player for the fourth time at an awards banquet in Falls Church Monday night. Other honorees were Ryan Nelsen (defense), Moreno (people's choice), Ben Olsen (humanitarian) and Alecko Eskandarian (coaches' award). . . . The team announced that Comcast SportsNet will show Saturday's match and Fox Sports World will provide Game 2 coverage next week.

-- Steven Goff