07 February 2006

Black, Red, and Blue

If I ever wondered if Freddy-mania was still around, today answered the bell nicely. Two major Freddy stories are running in parallel. The first is the known Freddy Adu returning to DCU from USMNT camp thread. There's not much development, Steve Goff's reporting included, but an AP report went out which was echoed throughout the googleverse. My feelings on this are clear: Freddy is not the top option at a striker, Center Forward, Center Attacking Mid, or Left Attacking Midfield option. He may be second on those depth charts, and that may translate into more starting time, but I don't see him as starting every game. The second thread is the reemergence of Freddy going to Chelsea. The BBC is running with the story about a potential move to the Blues, and I'll share some of my thoughts at the bottom of this post.

The Playing Time Situation

Comments yesterday were interesting, but I want to answer the "Start him early because he has upside and those early games don't mean much anyways" argument. While this is a very valid way of thinking, and I could well imagine some on MLS trying it out, we're talking Piotr Nowak here. A man who consistently says "I put my best 11 out on a given week." Now, there's reason to think that Piotr doesn't adhere absolutley to his own rule here, but as a guiding principle it seems to be valid. So unless Freddy is on the top of the depth chart for a position, it is tough to see him involved at opening kick under Nowak's system. Which means that the tension over playing time may well escalate again. Now, Freddy has said all the right things recently, as has Nowak. And I don't think Freddy is insincere when he talks of being a team player. I'm sure he means every word. But I am still mindful that he is a teenager, and once the season starts and he finds himself coming off the bench again, his feelings may get the better of him. I'm ambiguous in my phrasing, because I don't know. Freddy may indeed get regular starting time, or if he doesn't he may be a model Nowak citizen. But the possibility for tension remains, and I think Bruce Arena has escalated the stakes with his comments dangling a USMNT position out there.

Does CFC spell ADU?

Now, as for the potential move to Chelsea. I don't think it happens soon, but I've long accepted that Freddy is eventually going overseas if he is truly to become a star. So I have no problems with talks going on, or the Blues expressing their interest, or Adu's agent talking about it in more than hypothetical terms. Fine. If Freddy goes, than DCU loses an asset, but should be well compensated by a in-turn well compensated MLS.

However, the transfers of various footballers is always a topic of discussion, much like the MLB hot-stove but all the time, not just the winter. This is only talk now, and until I see definate evidence that Mr. Adu has typed his name on an English work-permit application, this all seems like thin speculation. In terms of concern for Freddy, I wonder if Chelsea will develop his talent well. We know they can purchase talent. But Freddy needs development, in a way that Chelsea hasn't demonstrated they can do with the youth system they have now, let alone with a new American. That's not to say they can't do it, but rather that the evidence in my mind is inconclusive. Chelsea Blog's comments are fascinating here, as in two comments they neatly describe this dilemma. Yes, he's an amazing hot property, but yes, he's not better that Shawn Wright-Phillips at the moment. Can he push out of that and emerge in that system? Mike H. seems to have similar concerns, and a good parting thought.

UPDATE: As I see that this story is indeed large, I want to answer one argument being advanced. Deadspin summarizes a completley incorrect viewpoint as follows:

If Adu does come to Chelsea, the MLS will have secured the youngest, least productive years of Adu’s presumably long, distinguished career. Adu had no real memorable MLS moments and his time with DC United will surely be forgotten in five years, if not sooner. The MLS helped him develop (kind of), and then released him to the “real leagues.” That’s right: The MLS is the Montreal Expos of world soccer.
First, that's utterly wrong. Lest you forget, Freddy was a finalist for MLS Goal of the Year in 2005, and probably should have won over a direct free kick, however nifty DDR made it. MLS got a year of Freddy spiked ticket sales, and got a phenomenal goal out of him (his finish in LA wasn't too shabby either.) The fact has always been that Freddy ultimately was going to do more good for the US National Team than for MLS or any of its clubs. Always. It is a pure fact that to become a great player in his prime, he must go overseas. That does not make MLS foolish to have him here, to pay him here, as it cements the fact that this is a player for the USA who got his professional start in the USA. History is important, and MLS may have purchased a piece of it. Good for them.

Update 2: John from Pseudo Corner Kick pops into the comments to point out that DCU has officialy refuted the transfer rumor.


At 07 February, 2006 13:52, Anonymous john said...

Freddy Adu to remain with D.C. United, says club
Washington, D.C. (Feb. 7, 2006) -- D.C. United today released a statement in response to media speculation that Freddy Adu's playing rights are to be sold in the immediate future.

"Freddy Adu is a member of D.C. United and we expect him to remain so through the 2007 season," said United President and CEO Kevin Payne. "Neither we nor the League has had any conversations with any club about a transfer of Freddy. Freddy knows the task before him this year is to continue to improve and become a game in, game out contributor to the success of D.C. United. We have great faith in his qualities, and we remain convinced that in time he will realize his potential and become a terrific player by any standard."

At 07 February, 2006 14:05, Blogger D said...

Thanks John. Nice to know I was right that this isn't happening just yet. It will happen, and it is worth thinking about what it means when it does happen, but yeah, this seemed a bit premature.

At 07 February, 2006 15:43, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a crazy thougt: If Freddy is number two at one of the flank midfielder spots, to serve the needs of the club and his development, trade the player in front of him and acquire in turn someone who can improve play at another position.

At 07 February, 2006 16:28, Blogger D said...

Anon: It's an interesting idea, but it creates problems. If you trade Gros (who I think is ahead at the LM position) you could put Adu there. You'd also have whomever wins the battle to replace Kovalenko at RM (Moose? Quaranta?) Which means you'd have two flank players in their first year of full time positional duty, making DCU's flanks potentially very vulnerable. So if you trade Gros, you probably want an experienced RM, but that creates problems in a year or two if Moose develops as expected...

Not saying it couldn't happen, just that it could also create headaches. It's an interesting idea though...

At 08 February, 2006 10:55, Blogger Kali said...

Is anyone else like seriously confused by all this Freddymania all of a sudden?

He just got sent home from the USMNT camp before a friendly with Japan, for Chrissakes, and all of a sudden, Manure and Chel$ki are dueling to the death over him?


At 08 February, 2006 16:25, Anonymous Anonymous said...

With what certainty can DCU supporters believe that MLS will take care of DCU if Freddy was sold? Would the club get anything more than a player allocation? Was Chicago monetarily compensated for the Ralph sale?

At 08 February, 2006 16:47, Blogger D said...

Anon - A very valid point. The answer is "little certainty". An allocation, provided he's under contract, is probably all we'd get. However, in terms of competitive value right now, that might not be far off the mark. You could argue that his potential value is more than that, but the catch-22 is that his potential value can only be realized in Europe.

Given the fact that Adu's contract is with MLS, MLS gets the money and DCU gets an allocation and cap space. It may not seem fair, but it doesn't seem totally unfair either. If DCU gets nothing, that could be a problem, or if DCU gets very little, and Freddy goes the Landon route, that could also be a problem.

Another variation - I think Freddy's value is more important to MLS than to most of the DCU fanbase. I could be wrong on that, but when Freddy eventually leaves, I think MLS fans as a whole will be more upset than most of DC. I think.

At 15 February, 2006 01:10, Anonymous dchooligan said...

Good bye head ache, hello MLS cup...

Least we forget that Freddy to DCU was rigged in the first place.

So long and thanks for all the fish!

/Colubus really blows! Why is there a train driving by my hotel every 15 minutes?!?


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