Not your typical 15th birthday

including most of our freshman basketball team -- to watch Mike Tyson fight Frank Bruno for the heavyweight title. Of course, that was around the time when the average Tyson bout was over before the pizza got cold, so we spent most of the night betting each other $5 a game in ping-pong and playing "tip-in 21" in my driveway even though it was 20 degrees out and you could hardly see the rim.

Pretty exciting, huh? But that's what you do when you're 15. You don't have a license yet. You have endless energy, but nothing to do. You're reliant on your parents for most everything. If you have a girlfriend, the "relationship" consists mostly of talking on the phone or instant messaging. And the dumbest statements of all time come out of your mouth.

Believe me, I know. I coach 15- and 16-year-olds. The last time I checked, none of them were like Freddy, either. Obviously, not on the field. What I'm talking about is off the field. There are more differences than similarities. It's shocking, actually. The only similarity that comes to mind is that they each wear the type of shin guards that were built for kindergarteners, which irks me to no end, and have one or more of those thin Nike rubber-band like bracelets on their wrists.

And please do not point out that Adu plays video games, either. That just proves he's a male, not a teenager. I have friends twice his age whose lives are dictated by Golden Tee 2005, NBA Live and Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004 Golf.

Adu is more like, say, a college sophomore than a high school freshman or sophomore as the rest of the kids his age are. He looks you in the eyes when he speaks. He knows how to take a compliment. He doesn't blush when older people are around, which by the way, is most every second of his life.

To celebrate all of Freddy's accomplishments that have been packed into a decade and a half, here's a look at the ways Freddy's life differs from a typical 15-year-old boy.

Typical: Gets driven to soccer practice by his mom.
Freddy: Gets driven to practice by his mom in the Lexus SUV he bought for her.

Typical: Mom worries her son is hanging with the wrong crowd.
Freddy: Mom worries her son is hanging with Dema Kovalenko.

Typical: Makes up rumors that he dated a hot tennis player from Holland over the summer.
Freddy: Denies rumors that he dated a hot tennis player from Holland over the summer.

Typical: Hates getting questioned about everything and anything.
Freddy: Hates getting questioned by Tino Palace.

Typical: Checks the stands to see if that hottie from chemistry is at his game.
Freddy: Checks the stands to see if Hilary Duff is at his game.

Typical: Drinks way too much Red Bull.
Freddy: Drinks way too much Sierra Mist.

Typical: Is afraid of ticking off a senior.
Freddy: Is afraid of ticking off Ryan Nelsen.

Typical: Obligations after a game include picking up empty water bottles along the sideline.
Freddy: Obligations after a game include talking to Lorrie Fair.

Typical: Thinks Eddie Vedder is Old School.
Freddy: Thinks Earnie Stewart is Old School.

The list could go on and on, really.

Adu's 14th year on the planet saw him sign with Nike and Major League Soccer, not to mention other endorsement deals with Campbell's Soup and Pepsi. He played in the two major youth world championships -- the U-17 and U-20 World Cups -- and traveled all over the globe. He played in his first game as a professional, started his first game as a professional, and scored his first goal as a professional. He was interviewed by David Letterman, appeared on "60 Minutes" and got ovation after ovation as a true cross-over star on MTV's "Total Request Live."

How does Year 15 top that?

Does he capture Bin Laden? Will he visit the moon? Or, better yet, does he date an Olsen twin?

Probably not. But this could be the year he gets a call to the full U.S. national team. Maybe he'll shoot up to around six feet like his younger brother Fro has at the age of 12. Perhaps Nike names one of its new cleats after him, as well.

What really matters, though, is this: If Freddy Adu knows a lot more about the game of soccer, life in general, and more importantly, himself as a young man, on June 2, 2005, then his 15th year will be a success.

That is, as long as he doesn't find himself betting on ping-pong and playing basketball in the snow on a Friday night.

Four quick ones
Questions for Chicago Fire midfielder Jesse Marsch

Toughest player to defend one-on-one: Jeff Cunningham
Best movie line(s) to quote: "Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?" -- Animal House.
Where you were when you got drafted: College dorm room writing my thesis
Where you were when John O'Brien scored against Portugal: Fado's Irish Pub in downtown Chicago.

Marc Connolly writes for ESPN.com and several other publications. This column runs each Wednesday on MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.


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