Despite Freddy Adu's growing frustration with Coach Peter Nowak, MLS Commissioner Don Garber said Friday that he believes the 16-year-old forward will return to D.C. United next season.
"I expect to have a very long and deep discussion with all those people involved to determine what his future is, and I expect that future is with D.C. United," Garber said during MLS Cup festivities at Pizza Hut Park in suburban Dallas.
In his first public comments about the Adu situation, Garber also said: "To be fair, Freddy has had his frustrations as to what's happened toward the latter part of the season. I think we are all going to focus now -- his family, his manager, his agent, his coach, [United President] Kevin Payne -- on what the right solution is for Freddy Adu. It's not a matter what the right solution is for the league; it's the right solution for Freddy Adu."
Last month, three days after United completed the regular season, Adu complained about his playing time, suggested that he might be better off elsewhere next year and said he believed his status with United was ruining his chances of making the 2006 U.S. World Cup squad.
United officials asked Adu to apologize for his comments, and when he declined, the team suspended him for the playoff opener against Chicago.
Adu has not granted any interview requests since his initial remarks. His agent, Richard Motzkin, said Friday that he expects to sit down with Payne and other United officials in the coming weeks.
"What's important will be for everybody to privately get together and review the good and bad of the season and let each side chat toward a goal of addressing any issues that might exist on both sides," Motzkin said. "There have been a lot of positives for Freddy over the last two years in D.C., and there's been some growing pains. Both will be addressed in the appropriate fashion."
All MLS players are under contract with the league, not their respective teams, leading to speculation that Garber might try to orchestrate a trade. But teams have gained more sovereignty over the years, and Payne has been adamant that the league office will not play a role in determining Adu's immediate future.
Garber said he believes Washington is the right place for the teenager.
"Freddy is a better player today than he was six months ago and a year ago," he said. "So the solution is -- what? -- to throw him on [another] team and have him play because he wants to? This is a guy we need to collectively work hard to ensure he can become the great player we all think he can be."
MLS Notes: Five players with D.C. connections were named to the 10-year anniversary all-league team -- Nowak, a former midfield star for Chicago; current forward Jaime Moreno; recently retired playmaker Marco Etcheverry; and former United defenders Jeff Agoos and Eddie Pope.
Others honored were goalkeeper Tony Meola, midfielders Preki and Carlos Valderrama, defender Marcelo Balboa, and forwards Landon Donovan and forward Brian McBride. . . .
MLS's board of governors, which will meet Saturday, is expected to approve Toronto as a 2007 expansion team. Philadelphia, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Atlanta, Tulsa and Houston have also expressed interest.
Meantime, Garber said a decision about whether to move San Jose and Kansas City will be made in the next few weeks. He said contracting the teams is not a consideration. . . .
United midfielder Brian Carroll, in Scotland with the U.S. national team for Saturday's friendly, will spend next week training with English club Blackburn Rovers, D.C. technical director Dave Kasper said.