- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Calling it one of the “most monumental days” in the history of soccer in America, Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber yesterday announced that 14-year-old Potomac resident Freddy Adu had signed a multi-year contract with the league.

MLS controls all player contracts and will assign Adu, the youngest player ever to sign with the league, to D.C. United. The local club will give “future considerations” to the Dallas Burn, who own the top pick in next year’s draft.

United likely will have to send a major player to Dallas for Adu, or an allocation, which it can obtain if star midfielder Marco Etcheverry leaves the club. Adu will not count against United’s salary cap because he is a Project-40 player.

The signing of Adu, who moved from Ghana with his family in 1997, has created more media attention than that of any other player in league history. In addition, MLS eventually will try to earn a big transfer fee on Adu if a major European club comes calling.

English clubs such as Manchester United and Chelsea have shown interest in Adu. However, by rule he would not be able to play professionally in Europe until he turns 18.

“I have faith in MLS,” Adu said. “I know they’re going to treat me right.”

Notably missing from yesterday’s news conference was United coach Ray Hudson, who is in discussions about his future with the club. Hudson’s contract with United expires next month. The United coach was not invited to the news conference and did not listen in on the conference call.

“D.C. United has a special place in Freddy’s heart,” Hudson said yesterday. “He’s coming to a club that he has an emotional connection to, and that’s a real bonus.”

Adu has trained with D.C. United and gets along well with Hudson.

“He’s always joking about my accent,” said the British-born coach.

A number of young players have joined United in recent years, including Ben Olsen, Chris Albright, Jason Moore, Bobby Convey, Santino Quaranta and now Adu. All were highly rated and some heralded as the future of American soccer. Convey and Quaranta both joined the club when they were 16.

While Adu was hailed as the savior of MLS, former United coach Thomas Rongen originally declined to add the striker to the U.S. under-20 national team that will compete in the FIFA Youth World Championship in the United Arab Emirates Nov.27 to Dec.19. Adu was added to the team yesterday when forward Arturo Alvarez withdrew because of injury.

Adu said he would join United in March after he completes his high school studies at the Edison Learning Center in Bradenton, Fla.

“We wanted to allow Freddy to pursue his dreams and develop his God-given talents,” said Adu’s mother, Emelia. “As he makes this next step at the age of 14, it was best for Freddy to stay in America and sign with MLS.”

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