CHESTER, Pa. – Freddy Adu looked surprised when he was pulled from Sunday’s game against D.C. United after 69 minutes, and the Philadelphia forward confirmed those feelings from the RFK Stadium visiting locker room shortly after the final whistle.
“As you saw, I was a little confused, yes,” Adu told MLSsoccer.com. “Certain days when you’re not playing well and the hard work is not there, when you’re taken out, you understand it. But today, I really wish I could have stayed out there.”
WATCH: Adu free kick leads to Union's opener
With the disappointment fresh in his mind, Adu spoke to Union interim manager John Hackworth on the bus ride back to Philly on Sunday night. Hackworth relayed part of that conversation back to the media during his weekly press conference Wednesday.
“He said, ‘Hey, I thought I could have contributed longer,’” Hackworth recalled. “I said, ‘You know what, I need you to contribute the way you did today every single game. Freddy, if you do that, we will win more games.’ And that’s important to us. I think he understands it, too.”
Adu has played a full 90 minutes only five times this season and just twice since Hackworth took over as head coach in mid June. The low point, in terms of playing time, came 10 days ago when he was pulled at halftime of a 3-1 loss to Chicago.
But Hackworth said the 23-year-old played much better this past weekend than he did against Chicago, even if he once again didn’t go the distance. Among the highlights for Adu were the free kick that led Philly’s lone goal, heading a D.C. shot off the goal line and tracking back to make another critical defensive play.
“For Freddy to play 90 minutes is not the goal of this organization or this team,” Hackworth said. “The goal is for whoever is on the field at any time to contribute. Freddy contributed great last game. I’m sure he would have wanted to play 90 minutes, but in the context of how the game was at D.C., it wasn’t the right thing for our team."
Hackworth said he’s still trying to push Adu to be a more effective player for the Union and noted that he wants him to “specifically understand it’s not about Freddy Adu; it’s about the Philadelphia Union.”
And if he can become a more consistent player, maybe that will allow him to become a 90-minute player, too, starting with Friday’s key game against Real Salt Lake at PPL Park (7:30 pm ET, NBCSN, live chat on MLSsoccer.com).
That’s certainly what Adu hopes.
“At the end of the day for me, I definitely want to be out there to play 90 minutes,” Adu said. “Because I am fit. When I came out [Sunday], I still had a lot in the tank. Hopefully that changes.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.