- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Freddy Adu should be the main beneficiary after D.C. United waived high-salaried forward Ronald Cerritos.

Adu likely will get more playing time, and that has left the 15-year-old thinking about what United’s forward line should look like in the future.

“I haven’t been up top with Alecko [Eskandarian] yet, and that has yet to happen. I would love to be up top with Alecko. He makes my job certainly easier because he’s a force for the defense,” Adu said.

“Obviously, we’re not the biggest guys in the world, but then again Jaime [Moreno] isn’t very big compared to the defenders, and Ronald isn’t very big, either. What Alecko and I would probably do … we’re both really quick and pretty fast, so we would both be buzzing everywhere causing problems for the defenders, making them work a little bit harder.”

Adu, who is both Major League Soccer’s highest-paid and youngest player, has been only a part-time starter this season for United (4-5-4) but has caused the team to be the biggest road draw in the league. Adu, who has started five of United’s 13 games, is fourth on the team with five points (two goals and an assist).

Meanwhile, United’s search for a target forward is well into its third year. On Monday, United will work out three unidentified players, a Uruguayan striker and two Argentinian forwards. By waiving Cerritos, United cleared more than $200,000 under its $1.7million salary cap to sign another player. Still, Adu doesn’t expect that to change his playing time.

“I feel like I have the upper hand right now because I’ve been here and I really know what the team is all about now,” Adu said. “All I have to do now is go out there every day in practice and just work hard and prove to [coach] Peter Nowak that I deserve to be out there.”

With Cerritos gone, Nowak expects Adu’s playing time to increase considering United’s lack of depth at forward. Thiago Martins and Eliseo Quintanilla suffered season-ending injuries, and Santino Quaranta’s return from abdominal surgery is uncertain. That leaves Moreno, Eskandarian, Adu and possibly Earnie Stewart.

“We are looking to resolve this thing pretty quickly and see what we can do about it,” Nowak said. “I think Freddy has gotten enough minutes. It’s not like he doesn’t have any minutes.”

Adu is averaging 43 minutes a game, or little less than a half. Still, with the MLS All-Star Game scheduled at RFK Stadium on July31, fans probably will vote Adu onto the Eastern Conference team — something that would be a bit more legitimate with an increase in playing time.

“Sometimes I come into a game and it’s pretty much over, so I come in and coast around for a little bit,” Adu said. “I would love to start like I was doing. I felt like I was playing well when I was actually starting like against Chicago [on June[ThSp]5]. Even though we lost [3-0], I felt that I was playing pretty well. All of a sudden, Coach decides to go with a different two up top, and it worked out great last game.”

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