Freddy Adu and the U.S. team crashed out of the World Youth Championship yesterday with a second-half meltdown against Italy in Enschede, the Netherlands.
Leading 1-0 at halftime after dominating play, the U.S. defense disintegrated, Adu played poorly and the Italians came back with spectacular play to win, 3-1, and reach the quarterfinals.
The Americans had won a tough qualifying group, while Italy had struggled -- losing to Syria before barely qualifying.
"The guys, including myself, we relaxed a little bit," Adu said. "We figured Italy was not going to be as good as they really were. But they were much, much better than that."
Adu failed to live up to the great expectations he carried into the tournament.
"I didn't think he showed up today," U.S. Coach Sigi Schmid said of his 16-year-old forward.
Adu didn't disagree after a match in which he was outmuscled by a sturdy Italian defense.
"I was terrible in this tournament," he said.
Adu missed two penalty kicks in the tourney. The first one came against Argentina, but the United States went on to win, 1-0. Yesterday, he missed again -- but the referee ruled the goalie had moved off his line and teammate Hunter Freeman (University of Virginia) stepped up and took it instead to give the U.S. team the halftime lead.
In a 20-minute period in the second half, the Italians came back with a goal that defected off American Jonathan Spector, then Graziano Pelle added the second Italian goal and the third was an own goal by U.S. substitute Sasha Kljestan.
-- From News Services