Sunday, October 23, 2005

The big to do about Freddy

So what's the deal with Freddy Adu, Peter Nowak and a very sharp looking black suit and red tie combo?

This is the story that has dominated the US soccer news over the past week. It is getting so much talk that I actually heard it mentioned on a non-soccer related news report on a local radio station. Since I do not live in the DC area or any other MLS market, this shows me something. I mean the last bit of soccer news I heard reported like this (meaning just sort of tossed out there, but at least it was mentioned) was the US beating Mexico to go to Germany.

Anyway, so why did Freddy get suspended by DC Coach Peter Nowak for Friday's game against Chicago? If published reports are true, it is because he failed to apologize to his team for events earlier in the week. His remarks caused the focus of the team to shift from preparing for a playoff game to answer unwanted questions from the press.

It is not certain that Freddy will be available for the second leg of DC's series next Sunday. However, during this week's ESPN2 broadcast of the LA - San Jose game, DC team president Kevin Payne was interviewed and said it was his understanding that after the suspension, this matter was considered closed.

But can this matter really be considered closed in anyway? If Adu suits up (in a soccer uniform this time) next week and does not get playing time, people will say it is due to his comments. If he does get time, people will say United is just trying to appease him. Short of him staying with United over the off-season, I don't think this matter can be considered closed.

It must be very interesting being Freddy Adu. This is a kid who at 14 signed a $1 million contract with Nike, was interviewed on David Letterman, stared in a commercial with Pele and became the highest-paid player in the MLS. I can see why one might think, "hay, maybe I should get a bit more playing time." However, the truly great players have a way of making that happen without blurting it right to the press.

This outburst might just follow Freddy for the rest of his playing career. Being labeled as difficult is not the worst thing that can happen to a player, but it could cause future teams to be a little reluctant to approach him. Still, if he excels on the field, teams will be willing to put up with a lot of difficulties.

So was it right for the coach to suspend Freddy? Yes. If he was told to apologize or else he would not play and he did not apologize, then Nowak had no choice but to suspend him. I'm sure this will only anger Freddy and his supporters further, but as long as you are on his team, you have got to play by the coach's rules. Also, when you are playing on a team with people as talented as Jaime Moreno, Santino Quaranta, Christian Gomez, Ben Olsen, Dema Kovalenko and Jamil Walker, you have to accept that you are not going to get as many minutes as you might want.



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