MONTREAL — The Philadelphia Union supplied perhaps the biggest surprise when the 18 MLS clubs released their player lists ahead of Wednesday’s expansion draft. And the Montreal Impact could be tempted to take advantage.
The surprise was the Union’s decision to leave US international Freddy Adu unprotected.
Would Impact coach Jesse Marsch, who as an assistant coach for the US national team worked with Adu at this year’s Gold Cup, be interested in bringing the onetime teen phenom to Montreal?
“That’s a guy we’re thinking about,” Marsch admitted when speaking to reporters on Tuesday. “I have a relationship with him in the past. He’s a talented guy. Now it’s about trying to figure out how he would fit with us and what his thoughts are.”
Adu, 22, was originally drafted by D.C. United in 2004 when he was just 14 years old. In his first four seasons in MLS, with United and Real Salt Lake, he made 98 regular season appearances, scoring 12 goals and notching 19 assists. Then, after shining in the 2007 U-20 World Cup, he transferred to Portuguese giants Benfica.
But Europe was not the promised land for the young Adu. He went on loan to several clubs, including French club Monaco and Greek club Aris, before returning to MLS to rejoin Peter Nowak’s Union squad. Despite this summer’s recall to the US team, Adu’s misadventures in Europe have some observers wondering whether he has been a flop.
“Freddy’s far from a flop,” Marsch said. “Maybe his career path hasn’t gone the way everyone expected. But the expectations were so high it’s almost impossible to meet them. It’s been a challenge for him now to try to figure out how to manage those expectations.”
With Philadelphia this season, Adu made 13 appearances, including playoffs, and scored two goals and dished out one assist. But even before that, Marsch was impressed.
“When we worked with him in the Gold Cup, we saw that he’s still got a lot,” the coach said.
Adu made two appearances for the US national team in that tournament. He set up the late winner against Panama in the semifinals and started the final against Mexico.
Whether or not the Impact bring Adu to Montreal, he is already a known entity in the city. It was at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium that he turned in one of the best performances of his life: a hat trick against Poland in the 2007 U-20 World Cup.
“He’s a talented player, and if you get him in the right mindset and you’re now building with him the right way, that he has major potential still,” Marsch said. “He’s 22 — that’s a pretty young guy still.”