Anybody remembers Freddy Adu? A few years ago, that name was not only making noise in U.S. soccer, but all over the international scene. For those of you who don’t remember (or don’t know him at all), Freddy Adu was once a teenage soccer sensation in America. Taken first pick in the 2004 MLS SuperDraft at age 14 by D.C. United, he became the youngest American athlete in 100 years to be signed professionally in any team sport. He then played for his country at the young age of 16, sparking interest in the major European teams. Premier League giants Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal were rumored to sign him. But none of them did. Now, Adu is back in the U.S. After playing in a few mid-market teams in Europe (like Benifica and AS Monaco), he returned to MLS proving almost nothing to the world. His loan spell to AS Monaco in France gave fans a glimmer of hope for the budding superstar as the team (and the league) seemed like a perfect fit for him. A country as soccer-savvy as France could have been a helpful environment for Adu’s growth. Unfortunately, it did little in his improvement. Freddy returned to the United States liked a washed-up athlete. Let’s hope that it won’t happen.
In his misfortunes in Europe, Freddy could have gambled his fortune away. Especially in his stay in Monaco, there are casinos everywhere you go. He could have played poker there and do it professionally. Poker is a great way to earn money, and also release stress. Perfect for a frustrated athlete. Knowing his personality, a guy like Freddy would have stayed at home and played online in websites like partypoker. The feel maybe different compared to live poker, but the prize is just the same. It could have been his ticket to a new career, and maybe a second chance at stardom.
In 2011, Freddy Adu returned to MLS to play for Philadelphia Union. This move reunites him with former D.C. United and U.S.A. U-23 coach Piotr Nowak. Like in Monaco, everything seemed perfect for Adu. The place, the team and the people supports him. Fans were hopeful that he could make a successful comeback in the MLS. However, reports of his disrupted influence inside the locker room spread all over the news. Early this year, Philadelphia Union announced that Adu will be traded because he is no longer part of their “plans.”
It would be a waste of talent if Freddy turned out to be a bust. The hype that was given to him when he was young could have caused a lot of pressure. Hopefully this trade can change Adu for the better. He is still young and can turn things around. But that decision is all up to him.no comments
The U.S. Men's National Team takes on Jamaica tonight in Kingston, looking to gain 3 critical qualifying points to bring them another step closer to Brazil. This World Cup Qualifying match-up begins at 8pm ET and is televised on beIN SPORT. If you don't have beIN SPORT quite yet be sure to follow along with the USfutblog team....
Live Chat is after the jump... no comments
U.S. Men's National Team camp as they prepare for Friday's WCQ vs. Jamaica
Following a U.S. Men's National Team match, it has become a ritual for U.S. soccer fans, such as myself, to constantly hit the refresh button on our Twitter feeds as we await player ratings from the major sports media outlets. Once these ratings get published, diehards and casual fans alike rush to analyze and debate over the latest numeric values assigned to their favorite players.
When I analyze the latest player ratings following a critical international game, I catch myself either nodding my head in agreement or thinking "well that's one way to spin it" due the subjectivity of this performance analysis tool. It's easy to see where these ratings do become subjective- Edgar Castillo either effectively stopped (7) or helplessly watched (4) Mexico's attack in August, as his performance in Azteca earned drastically different scores depending on who you ask. Not only is it difficult to use one set of player ratings to accurately assess an individual's performance, but the single game ratings also make it difficult to get a good look at how players performed across multiple matches.
So to help you speculate on how the next two World Cup Qualifying games could play out, I've pulled player ratings from ESPN, Fox Soccer, New York Times, Sports Illustrated, and the Washington Post for each player who played in, and received ratings for, 2 or more games since the Scotland friendly. After aggregating these across from the aforementioned 5 media platforms, I averaged ratings from the last 6 games to create a Composite Player Rating (CPR) for each player.
With those restrictions in mind, 15 of the 24 players called-up for the September matches vs. Jamaica had sufficient data for this analysis:
Fabian Johnson - 4 games; 6.80 CPR
Carlos Bocanegra may be Captain America these days, but Johnson continues to log solid game after solid game in the wing-back position. While he never received the highest rating for a single game he was consistently rated one of the best performers. Even on nights when he isn't marauding too far up field he turns in a solid defensive outing.
Clarence Goodson - 3 games; 6.57 CPR
Didn't face the stiffest of competition, but in the three games he did feature in, his ratings were always solid, making him a surprise showing in the top half of the rankings. Goodson manages to routinely meet that slightly above average standard of play without making any major mistakes.
Tim Howard - 6 games; 6.49 CPR
Shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone! Even when he isn't having games like he did against Mexico, he normally comes through in a big way. Howard is as good as it gets at the position right now, even when discussing his quality at the international level.
Clint Dempsey - 4 games; 6.16 CPR
For someone who was coming off an injury at the end of the Premier League, Dempsey was obviously still in form. With the exception of Canada, where most of the team was just "meh," Dempsey was one of the best attackers, most recently scoring in both June qualifying matches.
Herculez Gomez - 6 games; 6.12 CPR
Only one goal in the past six U.S. games for the Santos striker, but the service just wasn't there in many of these matches. Nary a complaint about his work-rate or energy level in any of those games, help to propel his name atop the rankings.
Since the U.S. Men's National Team takes on Jamaica in back-to-back World Cup Qualifiers, - this Friday and then Tuesday, September 11th - I'd like to lend my support to my fellow USA fans. Typically, this involves exaggerating statistics, eating, drinking, and taunting opposing fans through song and witty remarks. So, without further adieu, here's my USA v JAM breakdown....
If the country of Jamaica was on Sesame Street, that episode would definitely be brought to you by the letter "B". Jamaica is famous for all sorts of things that begin with the letter "B". For example, "Bob", as in Bob Marley, the iconic reggae singer whose music inspires thousands of students at the University of California, Santa Cruz (and USMNT midfielder Kyle Beckerman) to only shower once per semester. Another example: "bobsled", as in the Jamaican Bobsled Team, memorialized in the classic John Candy film "Cool Runnings". And in the world of non-ice-related sports? "Bolt", as in Usain Bolt, the Jamaican sprinter who makes Dane Richards look like Cuauhtémoc Blanco at the 2010 World Cup (read: slow).
On the Kyle Beckerman thing: every wonder how/why he was inspired to grow dreadlocks? I think this video just about explains it all. Plus it showcases his sweet juggling skills at around the 0:55 mark.
But I digress.
Here's a quick overview of Jamaica's record in competitive international tournaments. Jamaica has qualified for the World Cup a staggering 1 time (in 1998). Since finishing in fourth place (third loser, in my book) at the Gold Cup in 1998, Jamaica has failed to make it past the quarterfinals of this CONCACAF tournament. To be fair, Jamaica consistently finds itself the winner of the Caribbean Cup, beating out soccer juggernauts like Antigua and Barbuda, Guadeloupe, and Haiti. Good on you, Jamaica. Good on you.
Caption: Celebrate now, Jamaica, because the only thing you'll ever win is the Digicel Caribbean Cup.
Despite past failures, Jamaica comes into Friday's World Cup Qualifiers feeling optimistic, with the Jamaican Football Federation's official preview of the match adopting the catchy, yet ultimately unrealistic, slogan "Jamaica on a mission, on a journey, and on target for a victory". Their roster features 9 - count 'em, 9 - players from the MLS, including several "household names in houses that watch MLS" like Omar Cummings, Ryan Johnson, Darren Mattocks, and the aforementioned Dane Richards. MLS fans will be well aware of Johnson's ability to score spectacular goals, albeit for the most unspectacular club in the league (and perhaps the world), Toronto FC. Meanwhile, Richards will likely look to use his ability to run insanely fast to punish the Yanks on the counter-attack. USA fans shouldn't be too worried about Richards - a few sloppy "F You, Neymar" tackles from bad boy Jermaine Jones should slow him down considerably - but his speed should not be underestimated. Rumor has it Richards recently sprinted all the way from Red Bull Arena in New York to his new home at BC Place in Vancouver, since it "would just be quicker" than flying in a plane. Rumor also has it that the trip took him 4.5 hours. Scary fast!
Tactically, the USA bossed the central midfield the last time they took on the Reggae Boyz, when we posted a 2-0 victory in the 2011 Gold Cup quarterfinals. Formation-wise, Jamaican pundits have suggested that a 4-4-2 or 4-5-1 would best play to Jamaica's strengths, with the offense primarily focused on working the ball up the wing and putting in crosses to test Tim Howard. However, Jamaican player-turned-coach Theo Whitmore has not yet announced whether he'll be taking a page from John Candy's playbook, and trotting out the famous 1-1-1-1 formation traditionally used by the Jamaican bobsled team. While this approach would certainly be unorthodox, I'd say it can't be ruled out entirely - but only time will tell.
USfutblog's Three Big Questions Heading into Friday's World Cup Qualifying Match vs. Jamaica (8 pm ET, beIN SPORT) -
1. Will the U.S. Earn Their First WCQ Victory in Jamaica?
The US has never won a WCQ match in Jamaica with its four previous attempts resulting in draws. Injuries to key veterans, Landon Donovan and Michael Bradley, and fitness questions surrounding Clint Dempsey and Carlos Bocanegra definitely does not help their chances of re-writing history. However as the Yanks proved in Mexico, the team has the depth, confidence, and toughness to grind out a result. I believe enough pieces are in place for the U.S. to come out on top Friday. The aforementioned "pieces" I am referring to include Jozy Altidore, who is in mind blowing form (4 goals in 4 league matches), Fabian Johnson, who continues to get important minutes in the Bundesliga, and Geoff Cameron, a man who just secured a move to the EPL and started right out of the gate for Stoke City (showing well in 2 league matches thus far). All in all, the U.S. will rise to the occasion and squeak out a one goal victory.
2. Will Clint Dempsey Play?
Clint Dempsey's publicized transfer drama finally came to an end on Deadline Day with the former Fulham-man moving to Tottenham Hotspur. However, Clint's fitness is definitely a question mark at this point, as he has not played a competitive match since the June qualifying games. Klinsmann has made it clear that he is open to throwing Dempsey right into the starting 11 if the staff determines he is indeed in 90-minute form, but a more likely scenario would see Dempsey coming off the bench in game 1 and then starting in game 2 at home.
Since Fulham exiled the American after he expressed a strong desire to leave the club, Dempsey has been training on his own, not with the club. I would suspect his fitness to suffer as a result. Even if that isn't the case, the basic fact of not appearing in a match since June will keep Dempsey out of the starting 11 on Friday in my opinion. I do still expect him to be an impact player for the Yanks over this two game stretch and a goal from the Texan would not surprise me to say the least.
3 Who Will Start in the Back?
Field level highlights of U.S.' historic victory vs. Mexico in Azteca (courtesy of U.S. Soccer)
Yesterday, U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann announced the 25-man roster available for the two upcoming World Cup Qualifying matches vs. Jamaica. This large roster yielded few surprises with all the big names and recent regulars getting the call to report to Miami for training outside of Landon Donovan and Michael Bradley, who will both miss these important games because of leg injuries.
The U.S. first travels to Kingston, Jamaica to take on the Reggae Boyz this Friday, September 7th (8 pm ET, beIN SPORT) and then immediately fly back to the States to face the same squad on Tuesday, September 11th at Columbus Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio (8 pm ET, ESPN2).
Thus far the Yanks have accumulated 4 points in qualifying after a pair of matches in July, of which the Americans recorded a win vs. Antigua & Barbuda and a hard fought draw against Guatemala on the road. As a result, the U.S. lead Group A in the Semifinal Round of CONCACAF Qualifying, but are level with Jamaica on points and only have the edge due to goal differential.
Here is the full U.S. Roster....
Dempsey's Wonder (game-winning) Goal vs. Juventus - Part of Fulham's Runner-Up Europa League Run in 2010
For weeks Dempsey was all but a lock to sign with Liverpool, as Merseyside fans were ready to embrace the American's goal-scoring touch. The prominent U.S. international, who spent the last 6 seasons at Fulham FC, was set to move up the ranks of English football, determined to call one of the English Premier League's "Big 6"- Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, and Tottenham Hotspur- his new home. As his determination festered, Dempsey made it clear that he would not return to Craven Cottage, which alienated the Fulham community, most notably manager Martin Jol.
"There are always players in football like van Persie who want to move, but they keep quiet," Jol said last week. "This was different. Although we like to keep everything under the surface, it was impossible. Van Persie did the right thing. I always hope for players to keep a low profile and wait for what will happen. It's better for the manager and club."
With the manager clearly frustrated and the Liverpool rumors swirling about, the 29-year old playmaker did not even see the bench for Fulham's opening EPL matches, leaving Dempsey figuratively without a club even though he had one year remaining in his contract.
Despite the obvious momentum that was building throughout the week for Fulham and Dempsey to agree to terms with Liverpool, many pundits became worried about the lack of reports of an official offer from the Reds. Then once Sunderland surfaced as a surprising player in the Dempsey sweepstakes, a bigger question mark surrounded the type of offer Liverpool had put together for Clint's services. However, Sunderland was always an extreme long shot to acquire the American, who was keen on moving to a Champions League caliber side.
See Michael Bradley’s assist at the 2:00 minute mark
Michael Bradley’s first official 90 minutes for AS Roma were unspectacular, but the U.S. National Team member ended the game with a bang, providing the tying assist in stoppage time to secure a 2-2 result against Catania.
Bradley struggled with possession at times, which came to haunt the American international in the 12th minute. The hard-working, relentless midfielder was forced to make a dangerous tackle from behind after poor ball control, and as a result the referee pulled out a yellow card. Overall, Bradley’s first 20 minutes were forgettable to say the least, but he wasn’t the only one, as the whole Roma side played poorly during the early parts of the match.
However, as the game wore on, Bradley's play improved, as he showed off his one-touch passing skills that make him such a dynamic player at various key moments throughout the match. His passing prowess came from a more advanced role compared to the defensive midfield position fans saw Bradley play last season with Chievo Verona, which is also similar to the deeper role he occupies under Jurgen Klinsmann for the U.S. Men's National Team. This shouldn’t change throughout the season with Roma, because Danielle De Rossi will play as the regista (deep-lying playmaker) while Bradley pushes closer to the opponent’s goal.
With the American playing in an advanced midfield position, Bradley should score more Serie A goals this year than the single goal he mustered up last season for Chievo. Multiple times against Catania the Roma midfielder made dangerous late runs into the box, and even missed an opportunity that he usually would finish in the 75th minute. The advanced position will suit Bradley well, as the U.S. player is lethal in front of goal.
If anything, expect the former Chievo player to put up numbers that resemble the 10 goals Antonio Nocerino produced for AC Milan last Serie A campaign. For Milan, Nocerino made a living off dangerous late runs into the box that were unnoticed by defenders who were busy marking one of the World's top strikers, Zlatan Ibrahimović. I envision Bradley executing on a similar strategy, slipping through Serie A defenders who are busy worrying about his Roma teammates, Pablo Osvaldo and Francesco Totti.no comments
Maurice Edu's game-winning stoppage time goal vs. rival Celtic during the '09-'10 campaign
Following the financial turmoil and demotion to 4th tier Scottish football that ravaged Rangers Football Club, Maurice Edu wisely found a new league to play club ball. After 4 seasons in Scotland, Edu not only found a new place but also found a big stage to showcase his talents after agreeing to personal terms with Stoke City of the EPL. Stoke and Edu have agreed to a three-year contract; however, the University of Maryland alum will need to pass a medical examination and receive a UK work permit before the deal is officially complete.
The 26-year-old American will join fellow international teammate, Geoff Cameron, at Britannia Stadium. Like Edu, Cameron just completed a deal with Stoke City this week. To add to this Hollywood script, Edu and Cameron were recently paired together by Jurgen Klinsmann in the center of the US' defense. How recent? The two footballers served as the foundation of the Yanks' backline on August 15th, for the Americans historic 1st victory vs. Mexico in Azteca.
Stoke City secured one point in their season opening match vs. newly promoted side, Reading. Tomorrow, the Potters will take on Arsenal in an effort to continue to move in a positive direction up the table.
This is a superb move for Maurice Edu's career, as he fights for a starting position at the international level with the Yanks. Whether it's in the midfield or at central defense Edu will need to feature regularly for Stoke to force Klinsmann's arm throughout World Cup Qualifying.
I do believe Edu has the toughness and technical ability to compete at the EPL level and as a result of the league's top quality, Edu's game should continue to mature. The issue for Edu right now is consistency at one position. With Edu currently on the outside looking in when it comes to the US midfield due to positional depth, and Stoke most likely playing him predominantly in the middle of the park, Edu may struggle to find a rhythm at one position. I am just wary of the fact that Edu will not be able to develop the full repertoire of skills necessary of an international-caliber starting central defender without consistent play in the back at Stoke. Nevertheless, this was the correct move for Edu and his journey will definitely be an interesting one to watch.
US forward Charlie Davies announced on Twitter yesterday that he has found a new destination to play football and that destination is Denmark. Davies will play for Danish club Randers FC. Randers located in Northern Denmark played in the Danish 1st Division last campaign and received promotion to the Danish Superliga after a 2nd place finish.
Meanwhile, the once top American striker is still trying to regain his lightning form and find meaningful club minutes after his life threatening car crash in October 2009. Davies did find a home with DC United in 2011 but after inconsistent form throughout the season, head coach Ben Olsen decided to bench him down the stretch. This led to United and the MLS not willing to turn his season long loan from French club Sochaux into a permanent stay. Upon return to Sochaux for the 2011-12 season Charlie saw zero first team minutes aside from two bench appearances.
That brings us to yesterday when Davies announced... "Today is a very big day, I'm happy to announce I have signed with Randers FC!"
How will Charlie perform at his new club??
Listen, the Danish Superliga has continued to improve over the years and by no means is a low class league from a talent perspective. However, if Charlie doesn't find his touch and some speed this coming season in Denmark, which begins July 13th, then the 26-year-old will find himself in a tight spot.
This is a fresh opportunity for Charlie to re-launch his career, but I'm afraid if the bench becomes his best friend rather than the back of the net, then the fairy tale story that is Charlie Davies will soon come to an uneventful conclusion. He's going to get a chance, but the question remains does he still have that IT FACTOR we saw leading up to the 2010 World Cup.
The Story of Charlie Davies - posted Jan '11