D.C. United midfielder Fred has been under fire for missed opportunities in games this season. But those criticisms pale in comparison to the distractions he has dealt with off the field.
Fred’s 54-year-old father was killed in a car crash in December, and last month his 11-year-old daughter had five hours of surgery to correct a cranial disorder. But Fred, whose real name is Helbert Frederico Carreiro da Silva, has been able to work through those life events.
“Fred has had to deal with a lot with all the off-field issues,” United coach Tom Soehn said. “We’ve been patient with him, and now I see already signs of what he is about and why we got him. He’s in a happy place, as anyone would be when you know your child is safe from harm’s way. There is a whole new attitude about him. You can tell in the locker room and see how much happier he is.”
He was undoubtedly happy on the field recently, too. The 29-year-old Brazilian scored his first league goal of the year May 30 and then set up the game winner last week in United’s win over the New York Red Bulls.
“I feel good because it’s been a long time since I scored. I have more confidence to play now and to keep going,” Fred said. “I’ve been looking forward to scoring, and I’ve been playing hard.”
In December, Fred was in New Zealand on loan to Australian league club Wellington Phoenix when he heard his father had been killed in a car accident in his hometown of Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
In late April his daughter, Eduarda, underwent surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital to correct a craniofacial condition in which the brain grows faster than the skull.
A devout Christian, Fred said his faith has helped him get through the tough times.
On the field, the past couple seasons have been tough. In 2007 after an MVP year in Australia, Fred recorded seven goals and eight assists in his first season with United. He had just two goals and four assists last year and so far this season has just a goal and three assists in nine games.
In United’s past two games, Fred who usually plays on the flanks, stepped into the central-midfield role for the injured Christian Gomez, a position he knows well.
“This my old position,” Fred said. “When I was in Australia I played as the number 10, so I know how to play there. But Christian is a very good player, too. It doesn’t matter; I just want to help D.C. make the playoffs.”
Fred began the season with a hamstring injury and then missed a number of training sessions when his daughter was sick.
“Now I’m fit, and I want to start playing 90 minutes,” he said.