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Paid Their Dues: Freddy Adu close to signing with NASL's Tampa Bay Rowdies

Former D.C. United, Real Salt Lake, Benfica, AS Monaco, Belenenses, Aris, Caykur Rizespor, Philadelphia Union, Bahia, FK Jagodina, and KuPS forward Freddy Adu is close to adding another team to an already extensive list: the Tampa Bay Rowdies.

Freddy Adu in 2013.  That was 4 teams ago.
Freddy Adu in 2013. That was 4 teams ago.
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

After leaving the Union and playing for three different clubs in three years, Freddy Adu will return to the United States to continue his whirlwind professional career. However, he won't be playing in Major League Soccer.

Goal USA reported Friday that the 26 year-old journeyman is close to signing a deal with the NASL's Tampa Bay Rowdies. Tampa Bay will be Adu's fourth club since he was sold by the Union in Spring 2013 to Brazilian club Bahia.  Before he departed the Delaware Valley, Adu spent a tumultuous one and a half seasons in Philadelphia marred by inconsistent play and fitness issues. Adu was signed by Peter Nowak in 2011 as the first Designated Player in the club's short history.

Reportedly pursued by several NASL clubs, Freddy Adu was last seen playing for Finland's Veikkausliga (Premier League) side KuPS.  Struggling with fitness and injuries, Adu only made eight appearances in Finland before Adu says he opted to be released by the club so that he could find a new club. If he signs with Tampa Bay Adu will join former Reading United stars Ben Sweat and Corey Hertzog as well as reuniting with Thomas Rongen, who was Adu's coach when he played for the Under-20 US national team during their famed quarterfinal run in the 2007 U-20 World Cup.

After being drafted first overall in the 2004 MLS SuperDraft at the age of 14, Adu's cautionary tale of early stardom at such a young age and precipitous fall from grace is whispered by American soccer fans and media every time a young American soccer player shines on a big stage. Perhaps one day he will be the subject of a truly fascinating ESPN 30 for 30 documentary.