Salary-cap issues & difference of opinion lead to Union's decision on Adu

WAYNE, Pa. – At some point during this past offseason, Philadelphia Union manager John Hackworth presented Freddy Adu with a clear-cut choice: Renegotiate your pricey contract or don’t come back for the 2013 season.

Adu opted for the latter, thereby ending his rocky tenure with the Union after one-and-a-half years. The onetime MLS prodigy is now being shopped to other clubs around the world, according to Hackworth.

“Basically what happened was we presented Freddy with a couple of scenarios that we would feel comfortable with bringing him back,” the Union manager told a group of reporters following the team’s open training session Monday. “Freddy came back and said, ‘Hey I’m going to stick with my current situation and play under the current [contract].’

"We made it very clear that was his choice and he has that option. He’s under contract with us. But if he made that choice, then he wasn’t going to be coming back as part of the team.”

While the financials were the driving force behind the divorce – “He’s on a long-term contract that makes it hard for a team in this league with salary cap restrictions,” Hackworth admitted – Adu’s role on the team was another reason why the marriage didn’t last.

Adu made it clear at many points last season that he was unhappy with playing on the wing and constantly being subbed out of the game in the second half. But Hackworth never budged and instead gave the keys of the car to Michael Farfan, who will likely continue to be the club’s top playmaking midfielder in 2013.

Adu, meanwhile, will presumably move on to a ninth club since turning pro in 2004.

“He might have wanted to have a different role,” Hackworth said. “But I think he was given plenty of opportunity to play a significant role for us and be the player we expected him to be when we signed him. That didn’t happen.”

Adu finished the 2012 season with just five goals and one assist in 1,468 minutes. The onetime child prodigy had two goals and one assist during the final couple of months of the 2011 season after making what was supposed to be his grand return to MLS.

“You guys can look at the numbers, you guys can look at the stats,” Hackworth said. “It didn’t happen for us as a team or for Freddy. Some people said that was because his service was great and there wasn’t anybody at the end of it. There were lots of different opinions out there but the reality is it didn’t work.”

Hackworth said the Union have been trying to shop Adu for the past couple of months and will continue to work with Adu’s agent to try to find a suitable deal for both parties. The Union manager mentioned that Adu hopes to play “first-division soccer in the highest league possible” and that “a lot of teams in the world have been interested” because of his name and potential.

Hackworth did not put a timetable on when the deal will be completed but was hopeful it would happen during the current international transfer window.

“We’re trying to make sure we find a solution that’s good for the Philadelphia Union and good for Freddy,” Hackworth said. “We want him to go on and have a very successful career. He’s only 23 years old. He’s got a lot in front of him.”

Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at djzeitlin@gmail.com.