CHESTER, Pa. – When Freddy Adu was left off Philadelphia's 18-man roster for the second straight game, Saturday rumors began to swirl.
Had the Union’s high-profile midfielder played his final game in Philly?
According to Union manager John Hackworth, Adu’s future remains up in the air.
“Look, we’re going to review the whole season in the next week and start to work right away in making sure players know exactly where they stand,” Hackworth said following Saturday’s 3-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls in the Union’s final game of the 2012 season. “And that process is going to start on Monday.”
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Adu had a quad injury that forced him out of three straight games from Sept. 29-Oct. 6 before returning to start in last Saturday’s 3-1 loss to Houston. Hackworth confirmed that the injury wasn’t related to Adu not dressing for the last two games, including Saturday’s much-anticipated contest against Philly’s biggest rival.
“It was just a coach’s decision,” the Union manager said. “There’s a lot of competition. At this point, Freddy played last Saturday and we wanted to give other guys an opportunity.”
The offensive-minded Adu probably could have helped a Union team that managed only two shots on target and was generally outclassed by a Red Bull squad battling for playoff seeding. But Hackworth was upfront about holding the former teenage phenom out of the game, telling Adu his decision Friday.
Hackworth claimed Adu’s response was “great” and that he was in the stadium supporting his teammates. Adu, however, was not in the locker room following the game for comment.
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“Me and Freddy have a long history,” said Hackworth, who coached Adu at U-17 residency. “Despite what people think, we’re pretty close, too. I want what’s best for Freddy. I expect a lot out of him. He expects a lot out of himself. We’ll have a heart-to-heart talk and see what’s best for both of us.”
Whether or not what’s best for him will be in Philly remains to be seen and likely depends a lot on his pricey contract, which has him with the Union for one more year. But after an emotional season filled with his Olympic qualifying disappointment, injuries, inconsistent play and getting benched for one game for a violation of a team rule, Hackworth thought it was best to shut the door on Adu’s 2012 season a little bit early.
“We had a good talk and agreed we just need to have a little bit of separation from the year and all of the emotions and things like that,” Hackworth said. “And then we’ll make some good decisions going forward for both of us.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.