Holy Cow...manure! Adieu Adu?!? Freddy Adu was traded, not to a European team, but to another MLS team..and not the Red Bulls, either. Real Salt Lake?!? Adu will get to be the attacking midfielder that he didn't really get the chance to be in D.C. In the tug-of-war between Adu and D.C. United coach Peter Nowak, it seems that Nowak has won the battle. Adu may yet win the war. The best revenge, in soccer, is playing well.
I understand why RSL would want to add a gate attraction like Adu. They hope that reuniting him with RSL's coach John Ellinger, along with the increased role, will induce Adu to stay stateside with RSL, for a few years. Ellinger coached Adu while Adu trained in the U-17 residency program in Bradenton, Florida
The trade will make sense for Adu, if he can develop into the central midfielder he'd like to be. He dreams of wearing the no. 10 jersey, in role, if not the actual number. It's a special role in soccer history. Pele and Maradona are just the most famous -- Roberto Baggio another who wore the #10 with distinction -- and, in recent years, Zinedine Zidane wore the number and the role with matchless skill. That is how Adu conceives himself -- as a master dribbler and ball distributor, dribbling around and through defenses, before finally blasting home another goal, or passing of to a wide open teammate for the goal.
Who knows? He may get there, though the early returns are not convincing. Even if he develops better instincts and greater touch, Adu lacks the size and strength for that role. I wish he had not burned his bridges here in D.C. He was a local kid, on the verge of deserving the stardom foisted on him as a child. Moreover, he had much better talent around him here than he will find in Salt Lake. However, he may be the piece that RSL needs to make Jeff Cunningham into the star striker he believes himself to be.
Does the trade make sense for D.C.? Certainly, not at the gate. Though he was not flourishing in United's system, Adu was still the fan favorite. The roles he'd like to have were already filled by league MVP Christian Gomez, and long-time fan favorite Jaime Moreno. This may be Moreno's last season, as he continues to duel with RSL's Jason Kreis for the all-time league scoring mark. Since Adu is likely to leave for Europe sometime in the next year, there was little sense in holding on to Adu for the future. For Adu, the future in the U.S. is now. Ditto for United, which will feel tremendous pressure to win the title next year.
This will free up some salary for United to use to re-sign Gomez and add another highly-regarded player. For a foreign player considering the M.L.S., D.C. United is probably the most attractive place to land. It's a world capital, and the team is invited to international tournaments, based upon earning the most points this year. In the near future, when the team is more competitive, the L.A. Galaxy might be more alluring, but right now D.C. is where it's at. So, if trading Adu allows D.C. to add a player who is more effective in their system, I guess it would make some sense.
The two teams also swapped back-up goalies. United deals Nick Rimando, their all-time leader at the position, for Jay Nolly, who was a star at Indiana, but a back-up since turning pro 2 years ago. Nolly is much bigger than the diminutive Rimando, and may be a better bet down the road for United. RSL gets a proven professional. On the face of it, it seems that RSL gets everything in this deal, and United only gets a back-up goalie. This isn't one of those addition by subtraction deals. United can justify this deal only if they bring in a top player to replace Adu.
This trade comes as a complete shock. It will take some time to digest, but I wish Adu well.