Closing the book on Freddy

Photo: Nicolae Stoian

Chances are, you’ll never know the full story behind Freddy Adu’s departure from Philadelphia Union.

Union officials have said about all they’re going to say about it. Adu hasn’t talked to U.S. media about it. What remains are claims, rumor, innuendo, and bits of facts that don’t add up to much more than an incomplete story.

What’s known on the contract situation is the following:

  • Adu and the Union agreed to terminate his contract.
  • Adu signed a one-year contract with Bahia, according to his agent, Richard Motzkin.
  • Adu’s replacement, Kleberson, will join the Union from Bahia on a one-year loan, with the Union holding an option tor renew the loan, according to Union officials. The Union declined to release other contract details.
  • The Union probably paid off some of Adu’s contract, but the buyout terms remain unknown. (Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz told PSP Adu was due $650,000 in 2013. Adu had two years remaining on his contract, according to Motzkin, who declined to confirm the salary figures.)

“We reached a fair resolution for both parties, and there was some compromise on both sides,” Motzkin told the Philly Soccer Page on Tuesday. “While it was unfortunate that it didn’t work out in Philadelphia, this was a good solution.”

Motzkin’s words may be as close as U.S. media get to Adu any time soon. Motzkin said he advised Adu to stay quiet during the off-season. That could continue. Motzkin said Adu’s task is to focus on soccer and what’s on the field, not off it.

“I think in any situation, there are multiple sides to a story,” Motzkin said. “At the end of the day, if Philadelphia didn’t want him back, barring his willingness to take a major pay cut, then everyone made their decisions.”

Assessing the Adu-Kleberson trade

There will be little difference between how Kleberson and Adu affect the Union’s salary cap. Kleberson will be a designated player, like Adu. Each counts $368,750 toward the team’s league-mandated salary budget of $2.95 million. The Union would pay the rest of Kleberson’s salary out of pocket, unless Bahia picks up part of the tab. Brazilian reports put Kleberson’s salary at over $1 million annually, and some have indicated a third party owner — probably MLS — may pick up part of Adu’s salary. Much remains unconfirmed, however, and the real deal on their contract situations remains somewhat nebulous.

So how do you evaluate how the Union made out on the deal? Hard to say until Kleberson shows something on the field for the Union.

The Union acquired a 33-year-old midfielder and former World Cup star who spent 2011 on loan to a club subsequently relegated and then signed with a new team, Bahia, that discarded him less than a year later.

The Union parted with a 23-year-old alleged prima donna midfielder who has yet to consistently realize his (perceived) high potential.

An autopsy of Adu’s Union tenure

In the end, Adu’s time with the Union can be described fairly simply.

  • The Union overpaid him and played him out of position.
  • Adu underperformed in relation to his salary.
  • Things did not go well with Adu within the team, leading to his benching at the end of the 2012 season.
  • Union manager John Hackworth decided he did not want to compound his predecessor’s mistake in dedicating one-fifth of the team’s salary budget to Adu.

So Adu is gone to Brazil, where playing defense is optional and failing again is probably not.

Adu is still unquestionably a pretty good soccer player, even if he has not met bloated expectations. Americans often measure athletes by their stats, but Adu’s seven goals and two assists in 35 games with Philadelphia don’t tell the full tale. One can simply watch the anti-highlight reel of goal-scoring chances Adu created in 2012 to see his quality. One could also watch the litany of Union games he failed to influence to see his flaws.

“Freddy’s still only 23 years old,” Motzkin said. “He’s still young. He still has some soccer abilities that are unique that he’s demonstrated at different times. Ultimately, he needs to prove it consistently at the club level and, if he gets another chance, the national level. I think what I would say is I wouldn’t count him out.”

NOTE: This article has been updated to reflect the additional information that the Union can renew Kleberson’s loan.


  1. John Smith says:

    Nice article. Thanks.

    Good, one-stop summary pieces that (a) fairly and succinctly captures the most dominant points of view and (b) offers a bit of new information w/ regard to financial details we were all wondering about. Go Kleberson! Doop! And good luck in Brazil, Fredinho (sorry it clearly didn’t work out here).

  2. The Black Hand says:

    Hope Freddy’s game comes to form in Brazil. I think the hatred towards Adu was a bit unwarranted.

    As for Kleberson, I hope that he takes his time with the Union seriously. If he does, we will finally have found our midfielder through which we can run our game. He is unquestionably a terrific passer and if our attackers can sync up with him, we will have something. His presence in the midfield should keep our outside players out wide; giving us more pitch to play with. On paper, this is a tremendous upgrade to a midfield devoid of cohesive, quality play.

    If Kleberson comes to form with the Union, this will be a tremendous move by Hackworth and the rest of the managing personnel. Regardless he only stays a year, the opportunity to learn from a player of Kleberson’s pedigree will still priceless for our club. Even if he does not work out, I cannot fault Hackworth for taking his shot on Kleberson.

    COME ON THE U!!!

    • Are you making the assumption or assertion that Kleb gets to play/gets in the starting XI? I think that’s an “if” at this point.
      Note: I do not disagree with anything you stated, but I think there are questions, comments, concerns on Hack’s choices for the XI in 2013; ie: Baky, Carroll.

      • It’s a pretty fair guess that he would at some point. If you sign a DP and he doesn’t start most of your games, you’re wasting your money.

      • If he’s fit he will play. This is a major move on Hack’s part. He can’t turn this one back to Nowak (Don’t get me wrong I am a staunch Hack supporter). If he’s fit he goes.

        P.s. sorry Keon

      • How is it ‘sorry Keon’?
        Keon will most likely not be the player bumped from the 11 if/when Kleberson starts. Keon has consistently played on the left(minus the one game in the mid) and he remains above and beyond any other left mid the Union possess. Marfan has failry consistently played the CAM role and/or RM. In my mind, he is the best option the union have at a right mid. Unless I am sorely mistaken, Kleberson is a central mid, so how is one of them getting pushed out?
        I have a feeling that it would be BC at DMid and then this Left to Right:

        Who else would play in the mid? Garfan? lol

      • ROFL. Big Money on Daniel-Kleberson-Marfan just underneath the strikers.

        C-Dawg is spot on. Keon is the cemented position at LM. I don’t seen anyone pushing him out.

      • Gabe Farfan hasn’t been healthy. The reason Ray has started at left back? The intent to use Garfan in midfield. Keon is not a winger Gabe is.

      • No knock on Keon. He is a quality footballer, but watch him play in the center of the park for T&T, much more effective. He has a similar game in some respects to Kleberson. like it or not he is out of position on the wing. That being said we will see how Hack handles it with a fully healthy Gabe.

      • You think Keon isn’t a winger? What the. That’s his best position man. even if Gabe is a winger, he is a right winger only and a much less safe option when you consider the amount of cards he amasses, not to mention how many more the Union get with him and Mike on the field at the same time.

        To be honest, I don’t really think that the only reason Gabe isn’t playing is because of injury. Keon is hands down a better player than Gabe, left mid, right mid, or anywhere on the field. He may be above Cruz in the depth chart, but even then…

      • Keon is a better center midfielder than a winger if you ask me, so I agree with SoB there. But he obviously can play on the left as well.

      • JediLos117 says:

        I wouldnt be surprised to see Cruz chosen over Daniel at left mid. He offers more speed and tends to stretch the defense with his runs more than Daniel.
        Daniel tends to be slow and easily bumped off the ball.
        Its a tough call on the left…we got Gaddis back there and we could use Cruz’s speed to recover help Gaddis.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Especially, when you are paying well north of $500,000. Although, the Hackworth trend is to sit your big $ players.

      • The Black Hand says:

        I see your point. If Hack follows suit, Kleb will start at LB. God forbid a certain player, who wears #7 and has a name that rhymes with schmiam schmarroll, does not get selected for the central midfielder position. Keeping Carroll on the bench would make it too easy for Hackworth to play his best players in their best position. Why would you ever want to do that?

        Time will tell…

      • The Black Hand says:

        Sorry! I couldn’t resist taking a couple pot shots at the boss.

  3. Some poignant Kleberson-related tweets from Hack’s presser today:
    Hack – “Our hope to have Kleberson here as soon as possible…still awaiting ITC.”
    Hackworth not looking to integrate Kleberson into the mix right away. Thought is to see him in training first.
    For those unsure, Kleberson’s season long deal is a loan with an option on @philaunion end to renew.
    Hack says the club hopes to have Kleberson in Philly Thursday or Friday. Says he will not be immediately available for selection.
    Hack says Kleberson is excited about coming to the Union & that the club plans to “do something special” to introduce him.
    Hack says he thinks Kleberson will be a central midfield player, somewhere between where Brian Carroll and Michael Farfan plays.

  4. JediLos117 says:

    The acquistion of Kleberson could very well yield the same results that stemmed from a certain Serb’s introduction into our side immediately.
    Paunovic did wonders to our midfield and his absence has never really be addressed since. Kleberson could very well be the answer to our possession and attacking midfield issues.

  5. PhillyHotSpur says:

    Good article

    Adu was never a “Philly Guy”

    But I really resent the Union for paying all of this loot for a player who they consistently played out of position.

    How difficult it would have been for the Union to attempt to get the most of Adu ?

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