The management team of The D.C. United had better be sure they're right about Freddy Adu. They'd better be sure Adu can't play. Because Peter Nowak and Kevin Payne are kicking Adu to the curb and scraping him off their shoes. (This could be a tragedy for the many dozens who attend the MLS victory parades in RFK Lot 8.) If you criticized Nowak and Payne last year for mishandling Adu -- and committing consumer fraud by rarely playing him -- you were told: "Hey, pipe down. Nowak won the MLS championship."

But what did Nowak win this year? His team just got booted out of the playoffs in the first round by a mortifying 4-0 on its home field! Losing 4-0 in soccer is much worse than losing 36-0 in football. Four goals is a month's worth. What a massive gag job by the players and coaches.

Adu, of course, didn't play in the first half. And since he was suspended for the first game in this bizarre best-of-two format, Adu was more or less a bystander. What was his crime? At 16 he said he was unhappy with his lack of playing time. That's murder one?

The imperial Nowak likes to say no player is bigger than his team. Well, Freddy Adu is bigger than his team. Adu was signed to be bigger than the whole league! Nowak and Payne clearly resent the kid and the marketing push behind him, and have punished him (how's this for a new verb -- to "LaVar" him) for being hyped as a phenom.

Well, they'd better know that Freddy Adu will never become the greatest soccer player in U.S. history -- and that by the time he's 17 and 19 and 21 Adu won't be scoring goals in some other city like running water from a tap. If he is, Nowak and Payne will look like fools. And all we'll be left with is a photo of Adu in a cloud of exhaust, driving out of town in a Jordan-like Benz -- only with his mom behind the wheel.

Freddy Adu, shown playing for the U.S. team at the under-20 world championship in June, could make The D.C. United brain trust look like fools if he ends up in a different MLS uniform.