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Freddy Adu added to U.S. national soccer team

The midfielder, a former youth star, is named to the roster for a friendly with World Cup champion Spain and the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

May 23, 2011|By Kevin Baxter
  • Freddy Adu, once considered one of the best young players in the country, has been named to the U.S. national soccer team.
Freddy Adu, once considered one of the best young players in the country,… (Thanassis Stavrakis / Associated…)

Freddy Adu, a onetime child star who flamed out almost as quickly as he ascended to top of the U.S. soccer scene, is getting another second chance.

Adu, an attacking midfielder, was one of 23 players named Monday to the U.S. national team for next month's friendly with World Cup champion Spain, followed by the 12-nation CONCACAF Gold Cup.

"He's a player that certainly we all know at different times has shown some soccer abilities that are special," U.S. Coach Bob Bradley said. "He hasn't always been able to make them count in different situations at different levels."

Indeed, Adu has often been his own worst enemy. Although his talent and potential were never doubted, his attitude and work ethic have repeatedly been called into question since he made his professional debut for D.C. United as a 14-year-old in 2004. He was last called up to the national team as a reserve for the 2009 Gold Cup.

But Adu impressed Bradley and his coaching staff with his willingness to play for a second-division team in Turkey this year in an attempt to rediscover his game.

"It's important to say that it's not that we've seen anything specific playing for this new club that shows how he's made progress or how he's improved," Bradley said. "It's a package of things. We respect the fact that he made this move to go to a smaller club because he had to show people he was willing to do whatever to keep going."

The selection of Adu, now 21, was the biggest surprise among Bradley's selections. And he might have been one of the last of those selections as well. U.S. Soccer postponed the scheduled announcement of the roster by five hours Monday as Bradley agonized over his final picks. And though the coach declined to say much about that process, he admitted his staff was studying film of Adu on Monday morning.

"We still feel that there are good signs from him as a player that have shown us qualities that we think help our team," Bradley said. "This seems like it's a good opportunity to get back in with us where we have a good month together and we can challenge him.

"We hope that he has continued to grow and mature and can play a bigger role with the national team."

Also named to the U.S. team were 14 members of 2010 World Cup team, including Galaxy captain Landon Donovan, Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley, Tim Howard, Carlos Bocanegra, Clint Dempsey and former Chivas USA defender Jonathan Bornstein.

Former Chivas USA midfielder Sacha Kljestan of Huntington Beach, who played for the national team in qualifying matches for the World Cup, was also selected.

Training camp opens Thursday in Cary, N.C., although players on MLS rosters or competing for European teams will be allowed to remain with their club teams through the weekend.

The U.S. team plays Spain on June 4 in Foxborough, Mass., before opening Gold Cup group play June 7 against Canada in Detroit. The U.S. will also meet Panama and Guadeloupe in pool play.

The Gold Cup final will be played June 25 at the Rose Bowl.

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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