Freddy Adu To Benfica...a Done Deal...
Freddy Adu entered MLS in 2004 as the league's golden boy. He was 14, skipping most of high school and all of college. His route to professional American soccer was certainly pioneering, however I don't know if any other young Americans will be taken on the same ride in the future. Freddy Adu proved you can be too young for MLS. While there were some step overs, great runs to goal and tremendous free kicks, Freddy never captured the hearts and minds of American sports fans. MLS pitched the 14 year old Wonderkid to America as the league's savior, and when thousands of fans packed MLS stadias around the country and didn't see Pele on the field, they felt disappointed. The Freddy effect was felt by each team in MLS once, it gave all us soccer junkies a nice feeling and then vanished. After Freddy came to Denver I spent the remainder of the season explaining that a 14 year old wouldn't dominate in any soccer league and that we needed to give Freddy time.
Now at 18 years of age, Freddy will get that time. Freddy is transferring to Benfica, a storied Portuguese football club known for developing exciting attacking talents. In Lisbon Freddy will train with players of similar talent, something he didn't get here in the US. Benfica has produced standout players Eusébio (who played soccer in New England I believe and it widely considered Portugal's best ever player), Rui Costa, João Vieira Pinto and Simão Sabrosa among many others. Additionally Benfica is one of Portugal's "Big Three" football clubs, meaning he'll get regular exposure to European football in either the Champions League or UEFA Cup. In those tournaments he'll get to face Inter Milan, Manchester United, Chelsea, Celtic, Barcelona, etc. He will see the best on a regular basis. MLS didn't give him that.
I agree with Ives Galarcep, this move is the best for everyone. MLS gets a reported $2 million fee to invest in other players who can have more of an impact today. Freddy goes to a great club that will help guide his talent, so long as he takes their lessons well. He'll be able to be seen by the rest of Europe. US Soccer knows that their golden boy will be taken care of and given back in better condition then MLS coaches could have prepared him. It is a win, win.
Good luck to you Freddy. I will enjoy reading more about Portuguese football and wearing a Benfica jersey with your name on the back. Knock their socks off over there and earn a starting spot in the lineup, for that is the only way you'll get to Manchester United or Chelsea.