Bruce Arena, Frickin' Genius (Why Capping Adu Now Was Brilliant)
Last night, reported as it happened by DCenters, Freddy Adu received his first international cap for the US Men's National Team. Now, no doubt there are going to be some that complain that this was an awful choice, since this game wasn't on TV and most of the US attention was taken up by pointy-ball games in Seattle and Denver. I love Arena's choice for several reasons:
- It gets Freddy his cap, so at least he can feel like he's gotten something for his efforts.
- The "Cap Freddy" movement is now victorious. He's gotten his appearence for the USA, and even they didn't think he would make the World Cup roster.
- It means that Ghana can stop offering invitations to Freddy, since he's now comitted to the US.
- But most importantly, this happened in a game that few were paying attention to. Freddy is not ready for international competition yet (he's just now at a level to be credible at domestic MLS level soccer). Even he probably realizes that, but he wants to test himself. If you grant that perhaps the yellow card wasn't deserved, Freddy still knows that he's outsized by Canadian players. This allows Freddy to get a real taste of the action, and set his expectations accordingly. It deflates the pressure on him, since otherwise his first appearence in a US kit could have been a media frenzy. Now he's got the cap, he can focus on getting better, and doesn't feel the pressure to instantly wow them all to justify his presence on his next appearence.
Bruce has managed to find a way to help Freddy, US Soccer, and the US team in general in one move. Yes, the fans are slightly cheated by not being able to see this moment unless they were at the game. Yet I doubt there will be much outrage, especially as this pays off well for the US team. For me, I don't want Freddy in Germany. But I do think this will help get him ready for the next Gold Cup, and I want him in those games. More accurately, I want his playing ability to demonstrate that he has to be in those games. I'm glad the pressure of his international debut won't accompany them.