Could Freddy Adu be on his way back to Major League Soccer?
The Portland Timbers confirmed on Wednesday that the former teen prodigy will join the club on a trial stint during their preseason, which convened in the Rose City on Monday before decamping for Tucson, Arizona one day later. SB Nation's Chris Rifer broke the news on Tuesday and Ives Galarcep confirmed soon after.
Adu has been without a club since parting ways with the Tampa Bay Rowdies last year after two seasons of NASL play. It remains to be seen whether his time with Portland involves a serious shot at a contract offer, or is more of a training stint. Adu previously played under Timbers head coach Caleb Porter as a member of the US Under-23 national team that failed to qualify for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
Becoming the youngest professional athlete in modern US sports history when he was selected by D.C. United with the first overall pick in the 2004 SuperDraft at age 14, Adu was one of the most lavishly-hyped youth prospects American soccer has ever seen. The skilful attacker struggled to fulfill his rich potential, however, despite flashes of brilliance at the club and youth and senior international levels.
Born in Ghana and raised in the Washington suburb of Potomac, Maryland, he notched 11 goals and 17 assists in 87 regular-season appearances over three seasons for D.C., primarily in a supersub role, helping United win the 2004 MLS Cup before being traded to Real Salt Lake ahead of the 2007 campaign.
Adu's time in Utah was cut short by a midseason move to Portuguese powerhouse Benfica for a reported $2 million transfer fee. But despite a bright start to life in Lisbon, he was unable to settle there and subsequently criscrossed Europe on four loan stints over a four-year period.
Adu returned to MLS in 2011 as a high-profile acquisition by the Philadelphia Union, coached by his former D.C. boss Peter Nowak. He chipped in seven goals and two assists in 35 appearances for the Union over two seasons, earning a return to the US national team. But he set out overseas once again in 2013, joining Brazilian club Bahia, then wandering across Europe from England to Norway to Serbia to Finland in search of a permanent home.
He joined the Rowdies – who moved from the NASL to USL this winter – in July 2015, contributing three assists in 11 appearances (six starts) over a season and a half.