Connolly: The Freddy Machine

if you're in Dallas -- maybe 10,000.


"I'm excited that he's in the league because it brings a whole positive atmosphere to MLS," said Galaxy midfielder Ned Grabavoy, who was a teammate of Adu's on the U.S. under-20 national team during the FIFA World Youth Championships in December. "It's good for everyone."


Everyone wants to be part of the traveling circus when it blows through town, and Freddy Adu is in the center ring right now, despite the fact that he's logged only 29 minutes as a professional athlete.


Of course, the attitude of those around the league might be different if Adu wasn't who he is. Do you think Clint Mathis or Tab Ramos enjoyed the "What is it like to play with Lothar Matthaus?" questions throughout the 2000 season when the German star gave off a "you're-lucky-to-play-with-me attitude"? No way.


To a lesser extent, the same sort of disdain probably crossed the minds of many an opponent of Hristo Stoitchkov during his stay in MLS, considering he was hardly the type of guy players in the league wanted to go have a beer with.


Adu is different. For one, he's an American player. The same sort of love-fest would not be taking place had Freddy played for Ghana in the Under-17 World Cup. He's also impossible not to like with that Magic Johnson smile and engaging personality that's already captivated the American media.


"That's the thing. It's hard not to be happy for him," said Grabavoy. "Freddy is a good guy. He helped us out over there (at the Youth World Championships), and I'm sure he'll help out D.C. this year. We'll see how he is coached and how much time he gets. He's going to come along just fine, and I don't think it's going to take as long as everyone thinks, either.


"I hope he does fine, too, because it'll be good for the league and for U.S. soccer."


Even if that means hyping his appearance when he's going against your own club, as is the case in Los Angeles this week. The Galaxy are selling a Freddy Pack, which is a clever promotion that will allow kids 14 years old and younger into the stadium for a mere $14.


"For the first time we have an American player who we can build around and we will do that," said Doug Hamilton, Galaxy president and general manager. "Before Landon Donovan, we were using the Marco Etcheverrys, the [Carlos] Valderramas and the [Mauricio] Cienfuegoses. We are in the entertainment business and we do have a responsibility of putting fans in the seats. That means touting the stars we do have.


"Right now one of those stars is Freddy."


If you're a Galaxy player, there's no reason to be miffed. A promotion might help new fans enter the stadium, but it might be the play of Jovan Kirovski, a brilliant save by Kevin Hartman or a highlight-reel goal by Carlos Ruiz that has them returning to the HDC in the future.


The same has been the case in other American leagues. Former New York Knicks guard John Starks made his name because of his performances against Michael Jordan and the Bulls in front of the national media. Same thing for L.A. Lakers forward Michael Cooper, who defended Larry Bird better than anyone else throughout his storied career in the NBA.


Playing against Freddy means opportunity, as does playing with him.


First-timers surely had to be impressed with the goals they saw from United strikers Jaime Moreno and Alecko Eskandarian last week, as well as the strong play of midfielder Bobby Convey, a budding star in his own right.


That's where Freddy's impact will ultimately help MLS. They may come out for the show, but return to see the other acts.

Four quick ones


Questions for San Jose Earthquakes defender Eddie Robinson

Smartest advice from a coach you've ever received: Relax

Most underrated player on your team: Dwayne DeRosario

Most underrated player in MLS not on your team: Chris Leitch, MetroStars.

Movie you have watched multiple, multiple times and why: Dazed and Confused. It is the funniest movie ever.

Marc Connolly writes for ESPN.com and several other publications.
This column runs each Wednesday on MLSnet. Send any questions to Marc
at shaketiller10@yahoo.com.


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