Freddy Adu hasn't appeared for the US national team since the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup final, but he's hoping deep down to join a new club that will give him the chance to make one last run at the 2014 World Cup roster.
"You never know," the free agent Adu told the official site of Blackpool FC, the English second-tier side where he is currently training. "You play well for the next couple of months and you're in camp for the World Cup. You just never know.
"You have to make the right decision and you have to do what you have to do to get on the field and play and when you get on the field, you have to make a difference on the field and stay there."
And that's what comes first for Adu, who has been without a club since terminating his contract with Brazilian side Bahia. He landed the Blackpool training opportunity through his agent's personal contact at the club.
"I've loved it," Adu said of his time with Blackpool, currently in 16th place in the 24-team English Championship. "They've all welcomed me. I'm happy here. I'm learning a lot. The training here is very intense. It's different to what I'm used to and I absolutely love it because that's what I need as a player.
"I love football in England," he continued. "It would be a dream come true to play here some day. I don't know when that will be. But it would definitely be a dream come true and I'll do whatever it takes to make that happen."
Will it be at Blackpool?
"Right now, I'm really not in a rush to really get anything done right this second," he said. "I need to make the right decision for my career, as well. I haven't always made the right decisions as far as choices of teams I've gone to in the past. I have to make the right decision this time."
This coming March will mark the 10-year anniversary as a professional player for the 24-year-old Adu, who says he's "still young enough to correct some of the mistakes I've made." Adu turned pro in 2004 at the age of 14 and was picked No. 1 in the SuperDraft by D.C. United. Since then, he's played for nine clubs in six different countries.
"What most people don't know is that I decided to go pro because my family was real poor," Adu said. "At that point my mom was a single mother working 2-3 jobs and what am I going to do? Say 'no' to millions of dollars at that age while my family is struggling? No. ... When Nike gives you a multimillion-dollar contract, what are you going to say? I was like, 'yeah, I'm in.'
"As a 14-, 15-, 16-year-old, you're young, you're immature and you kind of get caught up in that a little bit ... There was a point where honestly I did get caught up in it. And maybe I wasn't training as hard as I should have. And it hurt me. It hurt my development as well. At that point you just have to be real with yourself."
Being real these days for Adu means coming to grips with a new reality compared to those early days. Adu has gone from being the biggest name in American soccer to a journeyman player, hoping to latch onto a new opportunity to prove himself.
"That's all I want to do," Adu says. "Be a professional football player. Not a star off the field."