With the Rowdies, the 26-year old Adu is reunited with head coach Thomas Rongen.
“We’re pleased to have Freddy Adu join our club,” said principal owner Bill Edwards. “Our goal is to make the Rowdies the most successful club in North American soccer and this is just another step towards achieving that. I’ve spoken to Thomas about signing Adu and he is as excited as I am about this opportunity.”
Adu captained Rongen’s U.S. Under-20 national team in the 2007 U-20 World Cup, in which he scored a hat trick against Poland and tallied two assists against Brazil. He played for U.S. national teams at the Under-17, Under-20 and Under-23 levels and made his debut for the senior national team in 2006 at the age of 16, making him the youngest player to ever represent the United States at the senior level.
“Freddy and I have always respected each other,” Rongen said. “He’s a very unique player, very gifted. He’s a difference-maker. He’s got superb technical ability and field awareness. He’s a guy that I’ve always enjoyed being around on and off the field.”
Adu broke into the professional soccer world as a teenager when he was selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2004 MLS SuperDraft by D.C. United at the age of 14. He was also the youngest player ever signed to a professional contract in American sports.
After three years in D.C., Adu moved to Real Salt Lake and then on to Europe with Portuguese club SL Benfica, which sent him on a series of loans.
Adu returned to the United States in 2011 with Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union, where he scored seven goals in 35 matches. Since then, Adu has played in Brazil, Serbia and Finland before signing with the Rowdies.
“I’m someone he relates to and someone he feels comfortable with,” Rongen said. “I like daring, creative players and Freddy has those qualities. His signing has immense upside for a club that is already making its mark in the NASL.”
Adu is projected as an attacking midfielder with the Rowdies, though he’s certainly capable of playing as a forward anywhere on the front line of Rongen’s preferred 4-3-3 formation.