Transfer Rumors: What’s next for Freddy Adu?

CARSON, CA - JULY 04: Freddy Adu
CARSON, CA - JULY 04: Freddy Adu /

Freddy Adu is making headlines again, this time because someone tried to use him to make headlines. Still a free agent, could he end up with a US team?

Freddy Adu. A name that needs no introduction. It’s been well over a decade since Freddy began to make headlines for his enigmatic career, which has turned into a very impressive world tour, and that trend has continued this week following Adu’s “trial” in the Polish First Division that quickly turned into a publicity stunt, unbeknownst to Freddy. Check out the full details from here.

Something that sticks out from the details of the story is the idea that Adu is coming back to the United States to try to find a better situation, declining additional offers from other Polish teams.

Adu has been out of contract this year. He last played for the Tampa Bay Rowdies in 2016 but didn’t re-sign after the season. Freddy came to Tampa to play under former US Youth Coach, Thomas Rongen, who was fired shortly after Adu signed with the team. Adu injured himself in his first game in July, a 15-minute cameo off the bench where he had an assist on the Rowdies only goal, he then made seven appearances to round out the season between September and October for Tampa, six of them starts. He registered three total assists while only taking six shots.

His brief stint showed enough promise to start some positive talks about revitalizing his career with the historic Florida side. Talk of him coming in early for training then staying late was coming out as the team prepared for 2016. Tampa and new head coach Stuart Campbell then brought in Junior Burgos on loan from Atlanta United and former Chelsea standout Joe Cole, both of whom Campbell chose to play over Adu in the attacking midfielder role.

Freddy would make only five appearances in 2016, four of them late subs for a total of 46 minutes, then a full 90 in the last match of the season.

Coming Home, Again.

Since leaving the Rowdies, Adu has also been linked with a move to Indonesia along with the links to Poland, and also had a brief trial with the Portland Timbers this offseason. It remains to be seen if he goes to Asia, but in his interview, Freddy mentioned his desire to return to the states. Both the NASL and USL of the Second Division are playing at a high level, and both leagues are expanding, creating more opportunity for professional players.

Freddy wasn’t able to stick with Portland, and would likely have a hard time being a featured MLS player like he was early in his career. Coincidentally, the Portland reserve side, Timbers 2, are the last place team in the league with only nine points through 20 games. Playing in the reserve ranks could get him brought back up to speed, and potentially offer a chance to face MLS players in training.

However, moving to an independent club, similar to the Rowdies, would provide the best opportunities. The signings of Adu, Cole, and Burgos (who now plays for new USL club Reno 1868 FC) show a trend of second division clubs building around an attacking midfielder, especially in the NASL. The New York Cosmos have traditionally had midfielders thrive in Gio Savarese’s system, but the club recently added several new attacking pieces, including 2016 NASL MVP Juan Arango.

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Miami FC has a similar log jam of attacking players, but he could slot in well with Spring Season competitors San Francisco Deltas or Jacksonville Armada. Jacksonville relied heavily on Zach Steinberger, who played on the wing in 2016, pulling the strings in the Spring Season. Adu could slot in between Steinberger and winger JC Banks and newly signed forward Ciarán Kilduff. Adding Adu into the mix could help them improve on their 17 goals in the Spring, where only Edmonton scored less, as well as help them keep up with the other attacks around the league.

Whether or not Adu will agree to another deal in the second division remains to be seen. A move to Indonesia could help him buy some time and build up his credentials until something opens up domestically with some of the bigger lower division sides. Wherever he may end up from here, it likely won’t catch many by surprise, regardless of where it is.