Your Kid’s Not Going Pro

A Youth Sports Blog

Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

Freddy Adu, show us your birth certificate!

with 4 comments

If the birthers feel stymied in their attempts to get the real scoop on President Obama, they can move on to another African-born star, a one-time soccer wunderkind who’s not such a wunder anymore.

From the San Diego Union Tribune’s Mark Ziegler, surmising as to why Freddy Adu was a rising star at 14 and now can barely hang on to even the lowliest professional job at 20:

He is 20 now and headed for his sixth pro club in seven years, meaning we can no longer pass off his rapidly spiraling career to mere youth and inexperience. Instead, we are left with two basic explanations:

1. He has crumbled under the weight of unrealistic expectations.

2. He’s not how old he says he is.

Of the two, sadly, the latter is becoming more plausible with each passing year.

If Adu was indeed 14 when he made his MLS debut in 2004 (and became the youngest pro athlete in a U.S. team sport in more than a century), he would hit a major growth spurt in his midteens. And if he was that good as a true 14-year-old, his natural arc of improvement in his late teens would propel him into the elite of global soccer.

Neither happened.

A Sports Illustrated story from 2003, when Adu was 13, says he was 5-feet-8, 140 pounds. His current size at age 20 as listed on U.S. Soccer’s Web site: 5-8, 140.

Adu also hasn’t appreciably improved as a soccer player, certainly not at the expected rate of someone with a birth certificate that says June 2, 1989. Forward Jozy Altidore plays in the English Premier League, commanded a $10 million transfer fee to Europe and is a projected U.S. starter at the 2010 World Cup, and is five months younger.

Adu’s career, meanwhile, is looking more and more like all those African players who were all-world at 16 and merely average a few years later.

Adu was born in Ghana, among the nations most often accused of fudging birth certificates for international youth tournaments. Four times in the 1990s, Ghana reached the final of the under-17 World Cup with what opposing coaches insisted was closer to an under-27 roster. African players privately talk about having two ages — their real age and their considerably more youthful “football age.”4030718061_c80424d676

There never was any real proof, of course, except for the anecdotal evidence that came years later, when generations of youth stars never achieved the same success as pros.

Adu, a fraud perpetuated by a fudged certificate who failed to reach lofty expectations? Who does he think is, Danny Almonte? Let’s see that birth certificate, Freddy. I bet you’re not only older than you say you are, but that you also were really born in Hawaii. And, by the way, show us the REAL birth certificate, not the Certification of Live Birth!

You know, it isn’t outside the realm of possibility that Adu grew and peaked early, like a lot of junior high stars turned high-school benchwarmers, and that he has indeed crumbled under the weight of lofty expectations. Like David Clyde going straight from high school to the Texas Rangers, Michelle Wie competing in the PGA, or any of many other notable young-person flameouts where hype and talent ran into a wall.

Written by rkcookjr

January 8, 2010 at 6:10 pm