Adu should follow Szetela’s path to resurrect career – Join the Cosmos


Staff Writer

Escaping the soccer wilderness isn’t such an easy task. Freddy Adu, who has currently been without a contract since November 2013, can tell you all about that.

Adu’s story has been told numerous times. At just 14-years-old, the once-promising young player was given way too much, way too early, with expectations that seemed near impossible to meet. That combination has seen him continuously fall short of football glory, most recently bouncing about Europe from trial to trial — with no end in sight.

While the credits haven’t completely rolled on Adu’s career, the time is seemingly drawing near. International options are closing all around him. National Team glory is a mere dream for the man once thought to be at the center of America’s soccer future.

Now is the time for a change, and one club can fit many of his needs at this stage of his career; the New York Cosmos.

Life hasn’t been easy for Adu. The 25-year-old trained with Blackpool of the English Championship earlier this year and then failed trials at both Bob Bradley‘s Stabæk and with Eredvisie side AZ Alkmaar. Both presented unique opportunities for Adu to resurrect his career. Staeback’s Bob Bradley is an American coach who took a chance on fellow American Michael Stephens and has reaped those benefits. Alkmaar helped Jozy Altidore find his scoring touch and fellow American Aron Johannsson has done the same at the Dutch club.

Despite those advantages, neither panned out.

Now Adu is presented with some difficult questions. Should the chase for a contract continue in Europe or elsewhere? Is there a place for him in Major League Soccer? Or should he link up with a North American Soccer League squad?

Before making his next decision, Adu should put in a phone call to former Olympic teammate Danny Szetela. The current New York Cosmos midfielder knows about coming back from the brink of a lost career. He also knows just how patient the Cosmos are with promising talents.

Szetela struggled with knee injuries, even going so far as undergoing surgery to have a cadaver knee implanted to continue his career. After three-plus seasons outside of the professional game, he was given a chance by the Cosmos to return on the professional level. The then 26-year-old came out of second chance saloon for the better and has always been grateful to the New York club for it.

The New Jersey native is just one of many similar rehabilitation stories from the NASL champions. Not only did they take a patient approach to Szetela’s struggles, but they also waited half a season for Jemal Johnson to nurse himself to health. They continue to show patience with injured forward Hans Denissen as well, even though he has yet to make a single first team start for the club.

Adu would be wise to follow in Szetela’s footsteps. While the attacking midfielder has had a globe-trotting career, with two stints in MLS, coming back to the States and playing in NASL may be just what Adu needs.

Some may view the NASL as a step down, but for Adu, it’s a step up simply because of the playing time. However, the NASL can also offer Adu the chance to join a brand that rivals his own. With the Cosmos, it would be a perfect marriage. Adu needs a club to offer him minutes and the Cosmos need a player that can help stop the waning attendance figures at Shuart Stadium and offer a creative presence in the absence of Marcos Senna.

Whether or not Adu can still flash the same brilliance he did at earlier times in his career, having him — at the right price — is a risk both parties could benefit from taking.

Szetela resurrected his career in the NASL and with the Cosmos. That chance has forged a close bond with the New Jersey native and the club. With offers rolling in from MLS this offseason, Szetela chose to remain with the Cosmos.

Adu, who was once a target of the Cosmos, possibly saw that deal scuppered due to financials. However, it’s time for a touch of hard work and a slice of humble pie for the once-wunderkind to return to action. Division two or not, an Adu/Cosmos union would bring together two of the most recognizable soccer brands in America and draw eyes towards the wayward son of U.S. Soccer.

Both need a boost. Both can benefit from each other. No other sub-first division side in the World would draw more attention to the player’s progress, either domestically or internationally, than the Cosmos. Plus, there are minutes to be had in a competitive environment.

What’s to lose?

The time to make a move is now. The opportunity is there — even as other doors close all around him. Let’s face it; before Adu can realize it, the screen to his fairytale movie will fade to black with a sad ending for a career that promised so much more.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

  • Stopher

    People will inevitably make fun, but I’d be happy to give him a chance with the Cosmos – as long as he has the right attitude like Szetela. I don’t think he would displace Diaz or Guenzatti, but he’s probably still got more quality than Johnson, Chirishian, and Diosa.

    Szetela has become more than just a come-back story with the Cosmos. He’s one of the best players in the league and he’s a huge fan favorite amongst the supporters. I hope Adu can wise up and try to blaze the same trail.

  • BillManning

    One major problem

    Danny Szetela vs Freddy Adu
    Humility Arrogance
    Team Player Selfish Superiority Complex
    Listens Wants to Dictate
    Heart of a Champion Believes he is above the Cosmos

    Freddy Adu’s personality does not fit the mold of what the New York Cosmos and many clubs around the world represent: a family and a true cohesive team.

    No doors are ever truly closed. But he needs to reevaluate himself, come down to Earth, and mature both as player on a team and as a person off the field. It all starts with him.

  • Argus

    Adu’s attitude is his achilles heel. Until he adjusts that, he’ll continue the career slide.

    Speaking of NASL, anyone have any info on this rumor about the Silverbacks moving?

  • Anthony

    Honestly, he has been rejected by so many teams and coaches at this point in spite of his obvious technical ability that there HAS to be something wrong with him. I just have to think the guy is a lost cause at this point.

    • kimo

      There is … he’s not professional. His fitness is awful and at every stop it’s been questioned. He’s lost his quickness and has put on “bad weight”. He shows up for trials and is slow / out-of-shape. Dating back to his first loan stint w/ Benefica, his stories of being unprofessional have rolled in. With Benefica, he was a late night party guy. With Aris, he routinely missed team mtgs and buses / flights. In Turkey, he seemed to improve, but that was primarily due to location as soccer was his only outlet. At the end of the day, if he’s not willing to put in the work to get professionally fit, he has no shot … too much baggage.

      • GreatOne

        I found your post hard to believe considering AZ put out a statment saying he is in peak fitness, but just did not have a tactical place with the team, also that he should have no problem finding another Eredivisie….

  • Szetela on his Facebook page:
    “As far as I am concerned I think it’s important for a player to play games and gain confidence. If Adu joined the Cosmos he would get an opportunity to play and be in an environment with great coaches and teammates, which would help him get back to the top level.”

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