- The Washington Times - Friday, December 1, 2006

Freddy Adu is returning home after a two-week trial with Manchester United.

That’s because under FIFA transfer rules, the 17-year-old D.C. United midfielder is not allowed to transfer to a club outside the United States until he turns 18 on June 2.

The British tabloids were reporting earlier in the week that United would reject Adu.

“United do not feel he is worth the investment needed to make the move possible,” the Mirror said.

But Manchester coach Alex Ferguson told the British media yesterday that he would like to see Adu again when he turns 18.

“Freddy has done all right,” Ferguson said. “He is a good, talented young boy, but there is nothing we can do about him because he’s not 18.”

Since Adu joined D.C. United as a 14-year-old in 2004, he has scored 11 goals in 87 games. He clearly has talent but until he can play in his preferred central attacking-midfielder role, which is currently played by Christian Gomez, Adu may not reach his potential in the MLS.

“I want to be in a situation where I’m playing and I want to learn faster,” Adu told the Sun tabloid. “I don’t respond too well to being brought along slowly.”

Manchester United has left the door open to look at Adu again when the summer transfer window opens.

“What we did was to bring him here to give him an idea of what [it] was like so he could see the place and see how comfortable he was with it,” Ferguson said. “He is a very confident and talented boy, but nothing can be done just yet. We will keep a check on him. Then, when he is 18, we will have to assess what we can do next.”

Adu said he enjoyed training with superstars Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo.

“Wayne and Cristiano are two of my favorite players,” Adu told the Sun. “Training with them is unbelievable.”

D.C. United officials were suggesting earlier in the week that Adu should set his sights on trying to play in Holland rather than in the tough English Premier League, according to the Guardian.

“I think he should go to PSV [Eindhoven] or Ajax or somewhere they have a tradition of raising young players,” United coach Peter Nowak told the paper.

David Kasper, United’s technical director, agreed with Nowak and warned that the English league would be too tough.

“Does Freddy want to have to go to Watford on a rainy Wednesday where he’ll have 6-foot-4 goons on his back all night?”

Chelsea has expressed interest in possibly signing Adu at some point.

United’s new challenge — D.C. United is returning to international competition next year.

After taking a year off, United will visit CD Olimpia of Honduras in the first leg of the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League on Feb. 20-22. The return game in the United States is set for Feb. 27-March 1.

It’s a tough draw for United, which beat Olimpia 1-0 in the quarterfinals in 1999. United won the CONCACAF title in 1998, while Olimpia won the event in 1972 and 1988.

United gained a spot in the tournament after winning the MLS Supporters Shield with the best regular-season record.

The other MLS entrant is the MLS Cup winner, the Houston Dynamo, which was drawn to play Puntarenas of Costa Rica.

If United advances to the semifinals, it will face the winner of the matchup between the Caribbean champion and Mexico’s Apertura (opening season) champion, in a two-game series on March 13-15 and April 3-5. Neither team has been decided.

The winner of the CONCACAF Champions League will advance to the World Club Championship in Japan in 2007, while the loser is invited to the Copa Sudamericana.

Soccer mom — Mia Hamm, 34, is pregnant. She and her husband, baseball player Nomar Garciaparra, are expecting twins — their first children — in the spring.

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