Behind the badge: More awards?
U.S. Soccer announced last week finalists for their year-end awards. Among the nominees for "Best U.S. Soccer Story" are D.C. United's Return to the Glory Days as MLS Cup Champions and Freddy Adu Mania Sweeping the Nation. United's impressive late-season rush through the MLS Cup playoffs resulted in the club's fourth league title in nine seasons. As the youngest American professional athlete in more than 100 years, Adu became a media darling when he signed to play in Major League Soccer prior to the 2004 regular season, drawing record crowds and creating an electric atmosphere wherever he traveled to play with the Black-and-Red.
Other nominations with local ties include: Summers Restaurant (Best Soccer Bar); Bruce Arena's Nike sweat suit (Best Fashion Statement); Brian Ching's give-and-go with Bobby Convey that ended with him snapping home a header off the post to give the U.S. a 1-0 lead in the fifth minute of their first home qualifier of the semifinal round - U.S. MNT 2, El Salvador 0 - Sept. 4 and Landon Donovan's clinical outside of the foot finish inside the near post opened the scoring in a route of Panama at RFK Stadium - U.S. MNT 6, Panama 0 - Oct. 13 (Best Goal); Ed Johnson's hat trick in just 18 minutes that turned a solid 3-0 win over Panama into a six-goal blowout that clinched a spot in the next round of qualifying in emphatic fashion at RFK Stadium - U.S. MNT 6, Panama 0 - Oct. 13 (Best performance - Player); and men's national team's dominant 6-0 qualifying match against Panama (Best Performance - Team).
Voting for the third annual awards is available at ussoccer.com, with fans having the opportunity to make their selections through a sharp new multimedia voter interface once a day through Friday, Dec. 17, 2004. The 2004 "Best of U.S. Soccer" awards will be decided entirely by online fan votes submitted over the next month.
No rest for the weary
As most of his teammates continued to reap the rewards of United's Cup championship run, Adu packed his bags for Florida and joined his U.S. U-20 national team teammates in Ft. Lauderdale for a week-long camp and friendlies with Honduras and Mexico.
Under new head coach Sigi Schmid, Adu was in fine form playing a majority of both games. Against Honduras, Adu drew a late penalty kick which he converted to provide the U.S. a clinching goal in their 2-0 victory. The 15-year-old phenom sparkled again in the team's 2-1 come-from-behind victory over Mexico. Adu again converted a late spot kick, this time providing the game-winner which also clinched a first place result for the Americans in the four-nation exhibition tournament.
Adu is currently participating in individual workouts in Bradenton, Fla., at IMG Academy. He spent two years (2002-2004) at the complex training with the U-17 national team and finishing course-work for his high school diploma. Adu plans to re-join the U-20 national team in California later this month before seeking much needed rest and relaxation over the holidays.