- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Freddy Adu’s stunning trade from D.C. United to Real Salt Lake on Monday seems to have satisfied all parties involved.

“Coming here I knew that this was the best environment for me to succeed as a player and to play in my natural position,” Adu said yesterday in his first Salt Lake City press conference.

Adu was traded to Real Salt Lake, along with United goalie Nick Rimando, in exchange for goalie Jay Nolly, a player allocation and cash.

In Real Salt Lake, the 17-year-old Adu joins a second-year team that has yet to make the playoffs.

“I will do everything in my power to get this team in the playoffs,” Adu said.

Adu will be able to play his favored position, attacking central midfielder, working with veteran forwards Jason Kries, the league’s all-time leading goal scorer (108), and Jeff Cunningham, the league’s leading scorer last season with 16 goals.

“I can’t wait to be in the middle of the field passing balls to Cunningham,” Adu said.

Adu also reunites with his former youth coach, John Ellinger.

“We wanted a player or two to give us an edge, to hold the ball, and I think we’ve taken a step to make this team more potent,” said Ellinger, who coached Adu when he was 12 years old.

Adu’s departure clears salary cap space for D.C. United and allows the team to acquire international players it says it has identified, including a wide midfielder and a forward. United needed to act quickly because it will compete in the CONCACAF Champions Cup in February.

The trade also relieves United’s coaching staff and players of a distraction. Adu’s shaky relationship with coach Peter Nowak during his three years with the team attracted massive media attention.

“We wouldn’t have done this [trade] if it didn’t make sense for us,” United president Kevin Payne said.

Adu had only praise for his former team.

“I had three great years in D.C.,” he said. “I learned a lot, and the front office, the fans, everyone, was great to me.”

Salt Lake City has one of the fastest growing youth soccer programs in the country, and Adu’s arrival has the potential to boost ticket sales.

“This is a holiday gift to all those young players,” Real Salt Lake general manager Steve Pastorino said.

The expected increase in interest and attendance brought on by Adu’s arrival may help the team in its negotiations with Salt Lake County on the construction of a $110 million soccer stadium set to open in 2008.

But how long Adu, who has been scouted by overseas teams, will stay with Real remains to be seen.

“We hope Freddy can bring a few championships here at Real Salt Lake before he goes anywhere else,” Pastorino said.

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