The Philadelphia Union has had plenty to do this offseason and they have responded (albeit with much delay) to those tasks. It was their duty to fix the midfield and they have done just that, adding a mini blockbuster of their own in Maurice Edu. Now wait just a minute, didn't we sign him before? I swear I've seen that name before. That's right! Freddy Adu! What's the deal, are these two cousins? Is Freddy trying to change his identity without it being too different? Is he going to be horrible like Freddy? OK, I could ask a million questions that a casual fan would ask but I'll spare you the agony of reading through that misunderstanding.
Two of the four Union designated players have had far too similar of a surname for my liking, but thankfully I know the difference between the two and it doesn't only occur in the form of an exchange in vowels. Another difference, with far more impact than the subtle pronunciation of their names, is their effect on the field. This is why we shouldn't confuse Maurice EH-DOO from Freddy AH-DOO.
The Freddy Adu signing was a favor; there can be no doubt. His travels throughout Europe rival Marco Polo's travels throughout the Far East some 500 years earlier. The unfortunate aspect of that is Adu has not accomplished nearly as much as his vagabond comrade Polo. Adu looked to return home to the US to save a career seriously threatened by the American media hype machine that ultimately deconstructed his state of mind as a young teenager. The once prodigy turned has-been had found his home under the wing of the man who brought him into professional soccer, the charming Peter Nowak.
Freddy Adu arrived surely as a favor to the young midfielder whose career had gone astray and it seemed a good move at the time. Why not? Philadelphia had no real attacking midfielder and the Union had the cash to buy a designated player. There was room for Freddy to take back what he had lost so early in his life, a chance to prove himself. There was no pressure, the cynical Philadelphian in me wrote Freddy off as a publicity stunt that wouldn't last, and if he did it would be because of his performance. It was a win-win (aside from the incredible wages he earned that would come back to haunt us). Ultimately, Freddy did not last here. Perhaps he lasted a little longer than I had hoped, but he was eventually gone and of course, in true Freddy Adu fashion.
Much differently, Edu comes in at a vital point in many aspects of the Philadelphia Union franchise. This designated player has a chance. He was not brought in on a favor. He was not brought in as a publicity stunt. He was not brought in by a manager who looks to make a quick buck off of player transactions. Maurice Edu is not Freddy Adu. Maurice Edu is a determined player. Maurice Edu is as well traveled as Freddy Adu with tenfold the success of his similarly named counterpart. Edu has tasted success in Europe and on the national team. His luck was unfortunate with his injury troubles, a manager who'd rather pay him to sit than to play, and a club who hit bankruptcy and was forced into administration. In recent years, Maurice Edu has been harmed by lady luck and Freddy Adu has been harmed only by himself. Edu is a player frustrated by the circumstances that have confronted him and looks to redeem himself. Prove his worth and he shall be rewarded with all the praise and prestige that was once bestowed upon him. Edu understands the way this works and Adu has no idea. Adu has not tasted the thrills of victory in Europe nor South America for that matter and it still does not affect his mindset. Adu's career has been adversity and his selfishness will lead him to a point of no return.
So when you stumble and accidently pronounce "AH-DOO" instead of "EH-DOO" this season, don't worry. Don't fear that the resemblance in the name bears a resemblance in character for these two are not the same. One was a wayward nomad who only stays in one place as long as it suites them. The other? A kid who just wants to play again.
And he's playing for us.