- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 27, 2006

Freddy Adu is working hard on the flanks, taking plenty of chances on goal and improving on his defensive duties. He says he’s also happier with D.C. United following a turbulent time at the end of last season. But the one thing the speedy attacking midfielder lacks this season is a goal.

And it’s not for a lack of trying. In a 1-1 tie at the Columbus Crew last week, Adu took a powerful shot that led to a rebound, which Christian Gomez converted. United outshot the Crew 17-3.

“I’ve been getting the shots and getting in the right spots, I just need to finish my chances,” Adu said. “I’m not trying to think about it, because the more you do you keep missing. You have to try and let your instincts take over, and when it happens it will happen.”

Adu has played in all eight games this season, starting in six matches and earning three assists. He has taken 14 shots but lags behind Alecko Eskandarian, who has taken 23 shots and scored four goals, Gomez (17 shots and three goals) and Jaime Moreno (15 shots and three goals). Even defender Facundo Erpen has two goals this year.

“Once you score a goal things do open up and your confidence jumps,” said Adu, who scored five goals in his debut season in 2004 and four goals last year. “At the moment I’m not worried about it.”

To be fair, Adu doesn’t play his favorite position for United, which is the central attacking midfielder role, because the spot is taken by the talented Gomez. Adu has played on both flanks this season, and in one game alongside Gomez in the middle.

“We don’t know who is playing till the day of the game so you have to be mentally prepared for where the coach will put you,” Adu said. “Right now I’ve played the outside position enough to know what to do out there. Wherever the coach puts me I just have to have the right mind-set.”

United coach Peter Nowak is pleased with Adu’s work.

“It’s not like he didn’t play well because he didn’t score,” said Nowak, who has led United (4-1-3, 15 points) to its best start to a season. “I’m very positive about the way he plays and what he contributes to this team. For me it’s what the whole team does. I’m not worried about Jaime, Freddy and Christian scoring goals.”

While Adu searches for his first goal of the year, he is learning the importance of becoming a team player.

“I’m willing to play any where to help this team win,” Adu said. “Individual recognition comes after the team wins.”

Tonight, United plays at the Kansas City Wizards (4-3-1, 13 points).

World Cup news — There’s good news for American World Cup team captain Claudio Reyna, who hobbled off the field early in a 1-0 loss to Morocco on Tuesday. An MRI revealed no muscle damage to his right hamstring and Reyna has not been ruled out to play when the U.S. team takes on Latvia tomorrow at East Hartford, Conn.

Rooney on the mend — Star striker Wayne Rooney will miss England’s three group-stage games at the World Cup after a scan on his broken foot revealed he will not be able to train for at least three weeks. Rooney, who injured his foot in a league game on April 29, will have another scan on June 14. If the foot is healed, he will have 10 days to train and be ready for the sudden-death round of 16, which begins June 24, if England makes it to that stage. England has until June 6 to decide whether to replace Rooney on the squad.

Goalie problem — The injury-plagued Columbus Crew acquired former Maryland goalie Noah Palmer from Real Salt Lake this week. The team is in dire straits when it comes to goalies. The Crew have four injured goalkeepers on their roster. Starting goalie Jon Busch tore his right ACL in Saturday’s tie with D.C. United, while last year’s starter, Jonny Walker, is on season-ending injured reserve with a lower back injury. Second-year goalie Bill Gaudette and rookie Andy Gruenebaum, who made his debut against United, both have broken right hands.

The 6-foot-3 Palmer helped lead the Terps to three NCAA College Cups in four years. The Williamsburg, Va., native is Maryland’s all-time shutout leader with 34.

Note — Brazilian defender Roberto Carlos says he will wait until after the World Cup before deciding whether to join English champion Chelsea or stay at Real Madrid. The 33-year-old said he has been offered a three-year contract by Chelsea.

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