CHESTER, Pa. – After every other player on the Philadelphia Union got showered and dressed, Freddy Adu remained in uniform in front of his locker, scrolling through his phone or staring blankly ahead.
He tried to say all the right things following Philly’s scoreless draw with Real Salt Lake on Friday. But after playing just eight minutes, the 23-year-old midfielder’s frustration – and even sadness – was evident.
“My role changed today where [Union interim manager John Hackworth] wanted to just bring me into the game and make a difference,” Adu said, quieter than usual. “When I went in, I tried to do that. I created a couple of chances. But whatever. It is what it is.”
Just a few days earlier, Adu spoke to Hackworth about his disappointment over being pulled after 69 minutes against D.C. United last weekend, with Hackworth essentially telling him he needed to be more consistent.
WATCH: Union react to RSL draw
But Hackworth also praised Adu’s performance vs. D.C., which made the 23-year-old’s omission from the starting lineup against RSL somewhat surprising. In Adu’s place, Hackworth started Gabriel Gómez, a move he hoped would help the Union win the midfield battle against free-flowing Real Salt Lake.
“In my opinion, that tactic worked,” Hackworth said. “But possession doesn’t get you any points. It doesn’t put any balls in the back of the net.”
To his credit, Adu – who has only come off the bench one other time this season – did create a little bit of offense after coming on in the 82nd minute, most notably setting up Amobi Okugo with a late cross into the box.
But the Union could not put the ball into the back of the net, and Adu was left to sit and ponder his role in the locker room, long after the game ended.
When asked if it’s hard to be asked to generate offense when you’re on the field for less than 10 minutes, he laughed.
“Sure, it’s hard,” Adu said. “But you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do and help the team. Today was one of those days where I personally didn’t have a lot of minutes. But when I was in, I was just thinking about making something happen and creating chances. And I was able to do that. I was able to put them on their heels a little bit.”
He only wishes he had more time to do that.
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.