At the age of only 14, Freddie Adu has been drafted by D.C. United, becoming the youngest player not only in the MLS, but also in modern professional sports. A close eye has been kept on this child prodigy since he made his debut onto the national scene when he was selected as an All-American his freshman year in high school. Gifted with uncanny strength and agility for his age, Adu has been preparing for the step up into the pros and eventually into the upper echelons of soccer leagues, namely the English Premiere. He has already been approached by the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and PSV Eindhoven to play for their youth teams, as he is still too young to sign a contract overseas.Accolades have been tossed about by many in the soccer world. “A blind man on a galloping horse can see his talent. He’s a little Faberg egg, and everyone’s just trying to protect him”, said Ray Hudson, the DC United coach.”He has an unflinching confidence with the ball”, mentions Dave Sarachan, Chicago Fire coach and former US assistant manager. Says John Ellinger, US under 17 coach, “You call it vision, perception, whatever. It’s not just one time. I’ve seen him do technical things from both sides of the field that I’ve never seen done by a player that age or a couple years older.” Having already been compared to Maradona and Pel, he has quite the reputation to live up to.Although his talent has created a whirlwind of buzz in the soccer community, there is a concern that his accelerated entrance into the MLS is hasty and this has been expressed by many, including his mother, who Adu considers his biggest role model. “I want him to get a good education and play soccer…sometimes Freddy wants to concentrate more on soccer than his education,” she said. Even head U.S. national team coach Bruce Arena recognizes this dilemma, “Freddy’s without a doubt the most talented kid we’ve ever seen at that age… he may be our first superstar. Maybe this is the guy…but we realize there’s a lot ahead of him. Too often, promising youth players are placed on a pedestal, and that’s a mistake.”I have seen a fair share of amazing soccer players from my years of varsity and club soccer, and not a single player on any team (including nationally ranked St. Benedicts and Shawnee) compared to the skill of Adu. He possesses the talent needed to excel in the top leagues around the world and compete with the best players. Hopefully more Americans will watch the increasing number of talented athletes scattered throughout the MLS, a league that doesn’t yet compare to other top soccer leagues around the world. I am hoping, with a little help from the media (who always eat up stories like these), that the popularity of the sport will continue to wax.Some of the highlights of his relatively short career as a soccer player include playing in the Under-14 Boys National Team camp in 2001. In 2002, he placed second on the Under-17 team in goals with 22 despite only playing a little over half of the games in the season. In 2003, he led the team in goals and assist with 23 and 14 respectively. He was also the top scorer of international goals, capping 13 through the U-17 World Championship. Adu was named a replacement player for the Under-20 team for the 2003 Fifa World Youth Championship at the age of 13. His first goal came on October 8 against Japan, at the Home Depot Center, in which the U.S. conceded a 2-1 loss. Adu joined the U.S. Soccer’s Full-Time Residency Program in January of 2002 and his first international match outside the U.S. was against Jamaica in the final round CONCACAF qualifying.Tice can be reached at

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