BARCELONA, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 29: Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona duels for the ball with Jose Manuel Casado of Rayo Vallecano (L) and Jose Maria Movilla of Rayo Vallecano (R) during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Rayo Vallecano at Camp Nou on November 29, 2011 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
As Scott Kessler wrote recently, Freddy Adu made comments about what an "honor" it was to be around La Liga players with the Spanish Club he was training with.
I mean, who wouldn't feel humbled and honored to be in the same training ground as Lionel Messi? What? He's not training with Messi? Well...okay, but Cristiano Ronaldo, man that guy is an amazing player, his style is out of this wor- huh? Not training with Ronaldo either? Right...maybe he's training with Javi Martínez? No?
Hit. Head. On. Keyboard.
Okay, just who in the hell is he training with that he would feel so humbled and honored to be in the field with?
Lass? Koke? Raúl Bravo? Míchel? Raúl Tamudo?
Did any of those names above ring a bell (maybe just Koke, who left the Houston Dynamo almost as quickly as he came in 2011)? Who the hell are these people? What club exactly is Freddy Adu training with?
What did I know about them? Well, nothing until I did some research for this article and what I found made me very, very angry at Freddy Adu.
First of all lets get something out of the way, I GET why Adu would want to play in La Liga. Its one of the top leagues in the world, it has produced some of history's most well known soccer players and is currently the league that 2011 FIFA Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi calls home. Adu wants to prove that he belongs in Europe and that he can play with the big boys. People say that Americans should strive to "play in the best leagues" I understand that.
However, what annoys me is that he essentially backhanded Philadelphia and it's fans in the article. In case you don't want to read the article fully, I'll quote some of it here after the jump.
"Another thing that has Adu convinced is the level of passion among the fan base at Rayo. He is staying in quarters right next to the club's training ground and seeing firsthand what it would be like to play for a true neighborhood club. 'The fact that fans here at Rayo come to training and watch it every day is so special,' Adu said. 'That is what I'm talking about when I say that I miss playing in Europe. That's the kind of environment I want to play in.'"
Thats right Freddy, you can't beat a European soccer environment. I mean who wouldn't want to set foot in a stadium with fans screaming your name, waiting to see what magic you create. Why I can only imagine just how amazing it is to have...well, I don't have the numbers in front of me, so let's look it up, how many screaming European fans does Rayo Vallecano have anyway?
Wait, what? 12,375? Thats how many people are showing up to Rayo Vallecano matches?
Yep, the average attendance for Rayo Vallecano in La Liga this season to date is 12,375. For the sake of comparison, the Philadelphia Union average attendance last season was 18,258.
Passion baby, passion.
Look Freddy, you want passion? Passion is showing up to watch your team take on Seattle in a rain storm that the words "torrential" , "epic" and "biblical" would fail to adequately describe. Oh and by the way, the attendance of that game? 15,149.
Hell, the worst attended game of the 2011 Philadelphia Union season would have nearly filled the Campo de Fútbol de Vallecas to near capacity (it holds 15,489). So please Freddy, don't talk about passion to us. Here in Philadelphia, they got it in spades. Ask the Phillies, Eagles, Flyers, and 76ers about our passion. Ask Bernie Parent, a player who received a standing ovation from 45,000 Flyers fans, with quite a few who weren't even alive when he last was on the ice as a player.
Parent put it best, "I guess the best way to describe it is: The feeling you get when people chant your name, money cannot buy. Any amount of money cannot buy that. You know what, you look at this, it's one big family who got together today. It's not the team. It's the people from Philly and it's one big family, and they enjoyed the whole thing as a family."
You hear that Freddy? Take it from a guy that helped build the Flyers into what they are now. Philly fans are as passionate as they come.
Major League Soccer has grown so much from when you first set foot in it. We're building something great here in Philadelphia and if you want to trade that for the possibility of being a player for a La Liga team that is beset with financial difficulties to the point where a majority of their players refused to even do some of their preseason training because they hadn't been paid then I won't stop you.
However I want to say this, if Freddy goes, I never want to see him in MLS again.
This isn't because he wants to play in the big leagues in Europe, as I said above, I understand why a player wants to get better and prove that Americans belong on the big stage. However Freddy, hasn't even been here a year yet. He hasn't even proved he's better than most of our current roster players and he's talking about moving to Europe like he'll be the next Clint Dempsey or Tim Howard. Freddy, I WANT to like you, but why don't you prove yourself to everyone here before you look at Europe with big eyes. I saw some brief glimpses of whats there, you had some good passes and some good goals, but before you think that you're all that and a bag of chips, maybe you should reflect on what happened the last time you thought you were "ready for Europe."
Remember bouncing around Europe for about four years?
MLS shouldn't be your "backup league" they shouldn't be here "just in case" you don't make it. If he does go to Europe, I truly hope Freddy does well, because I never want to see him in MLS again. I don't want to see him slinking back from Europe with his tail between his legs with the whole "I'm humble now and want to re-establish myself in MLS" attitude because it's starting to become glaringly obvious that his first time around didn't do the trick.
From the initial article, Adu said this, "I always said that when I went back to MLS, I wanted stability, and that I wouldn't go back until I could play for a top-five league. But if I did get the chance, I'd have to pursue it."
So I guess "stability" takes about six months. Four of which were months in which you could play.
Why don't you actually take the full off season to gel with your teammates? To actually practice with the same team for more than a couple of months? Why don't you show us that you're ready for the next level? I'd understand if Adu had tore up MLS upon his return but he didn't. He didn't even show that he was one of the better players on our team.
I'd understand his desire to move if he had proven himself in the limited time with the Union (or hell, any MLS team) but he didn't. Adu still a lot of potential, but that's what it is, potential.
I don't know how realistic a move to Rayo Vallecano is with the club in such financial straits. However, Adu (to me at least) has clearly made it known that he has never loved the American soccer fan. One European fan seems to be worth ten of us.
Adu said it's "an honor" to be on the same field as Rayo Vallecano's players. What he should realize is that it's an honor to set foot in any MLS stadium, no matter how crappy it is (RFK I'm looking at you). It is an honor to be a building block for an MLS franchise that is growing in visibility and skill. It is an honor to play with and against soccer players that have toiled in Major League Soccer their entire careers and have never complained about "how Europe is so much better." It is an honor to have a MLS roster spot when there are many, many young players that would kill for the opportunity to show that they belong in MLS.
Freddy Adu might end his career in Philadelphia, he might turn it around and become one of the franchises' best players (I doubt it). However, until he proves that he wants to be here and that he wants to play for us. I will watch him with a skeptical eye as I did Carlos Ruiz later on in the season. But as of right now, Freddy A-Doop has become Freddy Adieu for me.