The following is the transcript of this afternoon's media teleconference call with DC United forward Freddy Adu and head coach Peter Nowak. The Chicago Fire will host the teenage phenom Adu, its former captain Nowak and the rest of DC United in a key Eastern Conference showdown at Solider Field this Saturday, June 5 at 3 p.m. CT (live on ESPN2).
Opening comments by Freddy Adu:
I have never been to Chicago before and I'm looking forward to this match-up. [Chicago] obviously beat us in the first game and we felt like we played well, we felt that we deserved the win. But you know what, the result is what matters the most and we know it's going be a huge test. [Chicago] is on top of the table right now and that makes this game very important because we are in second place. I guess whoever wins is in first place, so it's going to be a very interesting game to watch.
Opening comments by Peter Nowak:
I am very excited to come back. It is a very important game for us, for both clubs. The first game was a pretty good match-up and we are very excited to come to Chicago and show what we can do. Chicago is a very experienced team - they played in the MLS Cup Final last year so the experience is on their side. But we will see what we can do to make things better.
Adu on how he settled in Washington, D.C. after coming to the United States from Ghana:
I have a lot of family here. My uncle lives here and he was the guy we lived with until we were able to get our own place.
Adu on what he knows about Chicago:
I know that's it's a big city and I know it's a famous city. That's what I have heard from a lot of friends and a lot of teammates.
Adu on the physical play of the Fire defense compared to other MLS teams:
I didn't feel like it was a tougher defense. I feel like the chances were there and we had a lot of chances we just didn't finish. It obviously showed on the scoreboard. They have a good defense and a good team all around. Their team defense is pretty good so it will be a huge test for us to see if we can bring them down.
Adu on the pressure that comes along with being 14-years-old and called the "Savior of the League":
I haven't been called "Savior of the League," that's just what people say. This league doesn't need saving, everyone is doing their part to help soccer become popular in the United States and, in due time, it will be. But I don't feel a lot of pressure. I'm just playing and having fun, and if I keep playing well on the field everything else will take care of itself.
Adu on whether he is responsible for the increase of attendance at stadiums on the road:
No, I don't feel personally responsible. DC United is responsible for that because this team has been playing incredible soccer. People love to watch good soccer and that's what we have been playing.
Adu on his most significant accomplishment in MLS so far:
How I have basically found a way to fit in to the team's scheme. When I got here I was a little lost. I wasn't really ready to play, but I have found a way to bounce back and now I'm having fun again, and now I'm myself again. I feel great when I'm on the field and I'm doing the things I would normally do with the [U.S. Under] 17's or the 20's. I am back to being me, and I'm glad.
Adu on what he has learned to date:
I have learned a lot of things. I have learned that this game is still the same game and the level was fast, but it wasn't too fast that I couldn't play. I was thinking too much and put myself in a position where I was not in the right position at the time, my position on the field was just off. Now I'm not worried about all that stuff all that stuff is just gone now. I found a way to adjust and to find the right spots on the field, to get the ball and get a lot of touches on the ball.
Nowak on what he thinks is Adu's most significant accomplishment in MLS to date:
Freddy understanding that he's pretty mature about the soccer, he reads the game very fast - even faster than plays right now. He's going be more valuable, and he's going be very dangerous in this league. I was very impressed, and still am very impressed, with his work ethic. He changed a little bit in a good way. He shows up every single day and he has the winning mentality we are working on. He has to score goals in practice, he has to feel more comfortable around the players, and he is much, much better than he was a couple of weeks and months ago. Like I said, every single day is work and he understands it. This is pretty significant from the soccer part, from my side.
Of course, the attendance in the stadiums is very good for the game and for every team that we visit. We just want to make sure that he is going to be consistent and he's going show up in the morning every single day and feel a part of this organization and a part of this team.
Adu on turning 15 and missing being a "14 year-old phenom":
Of course, but I'm only 15. It goes from 14 to 15, so it's fine.
Adu on the level of play he is at right now, and what to expect in the future:
I think it's going to keep getting better and better. I know myself, and at this point I'm playing good soccer. I'm not playing the best soccer I can play, but I'm playing very good soccer and I know as games go on and time goes on, practice after practice and game after game, it just gets higher and higher, the level. It will get to the point where I'm going to start scoring a lot of goals and start assisting on a lot of goals and basically be having a lot of fun. That's what I'm working towards.
Adu on the part of his game that needs the most improvement:
Every aspect of my game I need to improve. You need to improve on every aspect of your game, you can't just focus on one aspect because if you focus on that one aspect all the other aspects of you game will drop off because you aren't paying that much attention to them. You got to keep getting better at every aspect of your game and everything will be ok.
Nowak on whether or not Adu is a fixture in his starting 11:
You know the starting lineups come on Saturday morning right? He is a part of this team and you know we have quite a competitive roster and everyone wants to play the game and they want to start the game. We will see what is going to happen. We have a couple of guys with the National Team, and a couple of guys that are not 100% fit, but we try to put the best 11 on the field and Freddy is one of our options. Of course if he, in the practices, shows us improvements, then he deserves to be in the starting 11 and he will be in the starting 11.
Nowak on his choice of Frank Klopas as second inductee into the "Ring of Fire":
Frank is a big factor in soccer in Chicago and the Chicagoland area and he was the guy who linked two generations from the Chicago Sting to the Chicago Fire. He won the championship with the Sting and then, with the Fire, he was the guy who scored the first two goals when 34,000 fans showed up in Chicago for the home opener [on April 4, 1998] when we played Tampa Bay. Then he finished the season with an overtime goal in the US Open Cup final to give us "the Double." He is a great guy. The way he was a part of the [Fire] coaching staff when we won the second U.S. Open Cup and then we were in the MLS Cup Final [in 1998]. So as far as that, I think Frankie, like no one else, deserves to be the number two inductee to the Ring of Fire. So this is my selection, this is my choice. I love Frankie as a teammate; I love him as a coach. He is a good guy and I know this is a part of the soccer history in the Chicagoland area.