- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 18, 2005

As D.C. United prepares for its playoff game at the Chicago Fire on Friday, coach Peter Nowak and the club’s most visible player, Freddy Adu, are engaged in a disagreement.

Adu vented his frustration yesterday at not starting in the club’s last game of the regular season on Saturday against the Columbus Crew. Reserve forward Jamil Walker started the game at RFK Stadium, while Adu came off the bench at halftime in the 2-2 tie. In the week leading up to the Columbus game, the 16-year-old Adu won the MLS player of the week honors.

“I got player of the week that week, and the next week I’m sitting on the bench,” Adu told the Associated Press. “And I’m just like, ‘What is going on here?’ It’s one of those things where you don’t understand what’s going on, but you’ve got to swallow your pride and be a team player.”

Nowak, who has been irritated with questions concerning Adu’s playing time ever since the youngster joined the club in 2004 when he was just 14, fired back at the Potomac resident.

“This is about the team, and always was,” Nowak said. “And I don’t care who’s going to be there — because nobody is going to be above this team. This is our principle from the beginning.”

Adu, who has scored four goals in 25 games, played more minutes this season than in his rookie year, and started 16 games compared to 14 in 2004. His best position on the field is as an attacking midfielder, but with Argentine midfielder Christian Gomez in stellar form, it could be awhile before Adu solidifies a starting role in Nowak’s plans.

“It’s frustrating at times when you think you’ve earned a chance to play and you’re over there sitting on the bench,” Adu said.

Adu also said the lack of playing time had “killed his chances” of making the World Cup team in Germany next year. American team coach Bruce Arena has yet to call up Adu into the U.S. training camp.

Adu hinted he might leave United at the end of the season. Adu’s goal always has been to play for a top club team in Europe, but the sport’s complicated rules essentially prevent such a move until he is 18. If he’s not with United next season, he likely would be playing with another MLS team.

“I always have to make the best decision for myself first, and, you know, I’m just looking into things right now, so we’ll see what happens at the end of this season and we’ll see where my family and myself are headed,” Adu said.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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