If you were an American who even remotely payed attention to sports in the 2000s, chances are you remember the name “Freddy Adu.” Adu, the Ghanaian-American soccer player, who signed his first professional soccer contract at the age of 14 (the youngest person to sign a professional sports contract in American sports history) was hailed as the “next Pele,” and even as, “the future of soccer in the U.S.
Well, that was supposed to be the case.
After finding relative success in the first few years of his career, especially as a member of the U.S. national team, Adu began to falter, with many coaches citing immaturity issues, as well as growing pains for reasons in his lack of progress. This is not at all surprising, seeing as how Adu had already played for eight different professional soccer teams around the world by the time he was 22 years old.
Following his journeyman status, which saw him play in different clubs in the U.S., as well as Portugal, France, Greece, Serbia, Turkey, Serbia, Brazil and Finland, Adu decided to come back to his homeland to try and resurrect his once promising career.
He accomplished this on July 14, 2015, when he signed with the NASL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies.
If the league NASL sounds familiar to the casual soccer fan, it is probably because it is home to Jacksonville’s own Armada, which means that the former “future of soccer in the U.S.” will be playing in the same league as our very own team. So, Freddy Adu was the, “future of soccer in the U.S.,” and is now playing in the NASL, which is the same league as the Jacksonville Armada. Therefore, by the transitive property, the future of soccer in the U.S. has a path that goes through the First Coast. Right?
Is it a stretch to say that? Maybe. But, barring a miraculous resurrection to his career, so was calling Adu “the next Pele.”