- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 21, 2010

ATHENS, Greece | Though his career has faltered in Europe, Freddy Adu said he’s confident his game will pick up in Greece after being lured there by a respected coach and the hope of a place in the U.S. World Cup squad.

The 20-year-old American forward joined Greek club Aris on Jan. 6 on an 18-month loan from Benfica, where he had struggled to establish himself. He had previously been loaned to smaller Portuguese club Belenenses.

Adu said he has no regrets about leaving the United States.

“Football in Europe is No. 1 and where it’s at its best and this is why I decided to come to Europe,” he said Thursday, making his first official appearance with the team and being given the No. 11 shirt.

Adu said he was grateful for being sought by Aris coach Hector Raul Cuper, an Argentine who has previously managed Inter Milan and other Spanish and Italian clubs.

“I finally have a great chance to play for one of the top-class coaches in the world,” Adu said. “I’ve only been here for two weeks and I can’t believe how much I’ve learned. So hopefully that will translate on to the field and hopefully I’ll become a better player.”

He said he had little hesitation in turning down other offers, but did not elaborate.

“At this stage in my career — I’m 20 — I could have easily said I want to go to England or Spain or somewhere else … But at this time, Aris is the perfect club for me,” Adu said. “It was a no-brainer, an easy decision for me.”

Adu will play left midfield for Aris and join U.S. striker Eddie Johnson, who is on loan from Fulham. Both players are hoping to revive their careers and be part of the United States’ sixth straight World Cup appearance in South Africa.

“Right now, I’m only thinking about Aris and helping this team any way I can … Obviously if I play well at Aris I have a better chance of going to the World Cup, but I’m only concentrating on playing well,” he said.

Cuper has reinvigorated the northern Greek club, which is currently in fourth place with 31 points, 16 behind leader Panathinaikos. Adu said he hopes to make his debut when Aris hosts Panathinaikos on Sunday.

“I love it! What a great way to play your first game, against the No. 1 team in the league. I can’t wait to go on Sunday,” he said. “I would really, really love to be a part of that game.”

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