SALT LAKE CITY - Real Salt Lake is pleased to announce that the club has acquired American soccer's most recognizable player, 17-year-old All-Star midfielder Freddy Adu, along with the rights to goalkeeper Nick Rimando from D.C. United. In return, RSL will send a major allocation, the rights to goalkeeper Jay Nolly and future considerations, including a share of any future replacement allocation money attributed to Adu, should he be transferred.
Adu joins Salt Lake after three full seasons in D.C., while Rimando departs the four-time MLS Cup Champions after five. Nolly goes to D.C. after spending his first two seasons with RSL.
"This should serve as a signal to the people of Utah that we continue to be committed to building something of permanent and lasting value here in the valley", said Real Salt Lake Owner David W. Checketts. "I anticipate big things from Freddy, and I am thrilled that we were able to bring him to Salt Lake and reunite him with (RSL Head) Coach (John) Ellinger."
The 17-year-old Adu departs D.C. after three full seasons, during which the midfielder notched 11 goals and 17 assists in 87 career appearances. He was twice named an MLS All-Star (2004, 2006) and helped D.C. capture the 2004 MLS Cup during his rookie season. He has been a mainstay with the U.S. Youth National Teams and became the youngest player to earn a cap as a member of the full Men's National Team on January 22 against Canada. His 17 career assists place him tied for eighth all-time in United history.
"This is an exciting day for our club", said RSL CEO Dean Howes. "Freddy is one of the most recognized names in American soccer; adding him to our roster allows us to improve our operation on several levels. He instantly makes us a better team on the field and will raise our level of awareness off the field as well."
In coming to Salt Lake, Adu is set to be reunited with his former U-17 National Team Coach, John Ellinger. Adu spent three years under Coach Ellinger in the U-17 residency program in Bradenton, Florida. In 2002 as a 13-year-old, Adu finished second on the team in goals with 22. A year later, Adu helped the U-17's qualify for the 2003 FIFA U-17 World Cup with a goal and an assist in a pair of 3-0 wins over Jamaica and Guatemala. He opened the tournament with a hat trick in the team's 6-1 win over South Korea and scored the game-winning goal in the 89th minute in a 2-1 victory over Sierra Leone, vaulting the U.S. team into the quarterfinals, where they would fall to eventual champions Brazil.
"In Freddy Adu, RSL has acquired one of the iconic figures in MLS", said RSL General Manager Steve Pastorino. "Once upon a time, he was merely the youngest. Now he is a seasoned professional who will create, pass, cross and finish. He's an exciting player with a phenomenal left foot and I am confident that his most exhilarating days lie ahead of him."
Coach Ellinger is very excited at the prospect of coaching Adu once again, and is eager to see him on the field with his new teammates.
"I am thrilled with what we have been able to accomplish today", said Coach Ellinger." Freddy is an exceptional talent; players like him don't come along very often. With all of the hype that surrounded him entering the league at such a young age, sometimes people fail to see what a proven player he has developed into. He is no longer a great player for a young kid, he is a great player, period. The value he brings to our organization is hard to accurately describe. Obviously, he makes us better on the field, but he also makes us more viable off the field. His arrival will benefit the entire organization, on every level possible. I am eager to get him out on the field with his teammates; I am anticipating big things."
Goalkeeper Nick Rimando made just two League appearances for D.C. United in 2006, but departs as the club's all-time leader in wins (41), shutouts (29), saves (355), save percentage (72.2 %) and goals-against-average (1.22). The 27-year old was named as the Decade's Best XI goalkeeper by fans at the beginning of 2006.
"Nick is a proven player in this league", said Pastorino. "He has won an MLS Cup, has national team experience and holds many goalkeeping records for one of the league's longest tenured franchises. We are excited to have him in Salt Lake and expect him to come in and add very valuable depth to our club."
Jay Nolly departs for D.C. after spending his first two seasons in MLS with Real Salt Lake. Nolly was primarily used as the starting goalkeeper for the RSL Reserves, while serving as the backup for the RSL Senior Squad. In two seasons, Nolly logged six starts for RSL, posting a 1-4-1 record and a 2.62 GAA. The 6-foot-3, 24-year-old goalkeeper was RSL'S second round 2005 MLS Superdraft Pick (22nd overall) after a successful college career at the University of Indiana, where he led the Hoosiers to back-to-back NCAA National Championships in 2003 and 2004.
"It was tough to give up Jay", said Coach Ellinger. "I believe that he will be a successful starting 'keeper in this league. He has all the tools necessary to succeed as a professional goalkeeper, and I wish him all the best moving forward. He was a favorite in the locker room and I know the guys on the team will really miss him."
Adu is expected to arrive in Salt Lake Monday evening and will be making various media appearances throughout the day tomorrow, before departing for Florida to report to camp for the U-20 Men's National Team. Adu serves as the captain for the U-20's, who are coached by Thomas Rongen. The team will be training Dec.12-23 at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. The 12-day camp marks the final time the U-20s will be together before Rongen names his final roster for the 2007 CONCACAF Final Round Qualifying Tournament, which will take place from Jan. 17-21 in Panama City, Panama.