Posted Saturday, January 17, 2004


14 Year-old Freddy Adu, Tiger woods of soccer, first pick in MLS draft by D.C. United

Soccer phenom Freddy Adu, 14, center, poses with his mother, Emelia Adu, right, and uncle, Tony Yeboah, after being chosen by D.C. United as the first pick in the Major League Soccer draft in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, Jan. 16, 2004. Under MLS rules, Ado, a U.S. citizen born in Ghana, can play as soon as D.C. United thinks he's ready, and it also allows him to stay at home.
HARLOTTE, N.C. - In a move that surprised no one, 14-year-old soccer phenom Freddy Adu was selected by D.C. United as the first pick in Friday's Major League Soccer draft.

"I'm in awe right now," Adu said after D.C. United took just more than three minutes to make a selection that had been predetermined. "I've been waiting for this moment for a long time."

"I can't wait to get on the field and start playing," added Adu, who will try for a starting spot on the United when their season starts in the spring.

Adu signed with Major League Soccer in November and was assigned by the league to the Washington team.

Wearing a black suit with a blue shirt and a diamond earring in his left ear, Adu was joined by his mother, Emelia Adu, at the MLS draft, held in conjunction with a U.S. national convention of soccer coaches at the Charlotte Convention Center.

Soccer phenom Freddy Adu, 14, addresses the audience after being chosen by D.C. United as the first pick in the Major League Soccer draft at the Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, N.C. Adu led the U.S. team to the quarterfinals of the under-17 world championships in Finland in August.
He smiled as he held up a No. 9 D.C. United jersey with his name on the back.

"I would rather have No. 11, but you can't always get what you want," he said. "You have to earn it."

The No. 11 jersey is worn by United striker Alecko Eskandarian, the first pick in last year's MLS draft.

Defenceman Adrian Cann of Thornhill, Ont., was chosen in the second round, 16th overall, by the Colorado Rapids.

Forward Olivier Occean of Montreal was taken in the third round, 26th overall, by the MetroStars, which are based in New Jersey.

The defending champion San Jose Earthquakes made midfielder Marin Pusek of Brampton, Ont., the 40th pick. Montreal forward Felix Brillant went in the sixth round, 56th overall, to the New England Revolution.

DC United officially acquired Freddy Adu by selecting the soccer prodigy with the first pick in the Major League Soccer SuperDraft
Adu was a high school All-American as a freshman and attended the U.S. under-14 boys' national team camp in 2001. He began playing for the U.S. under-17 team last year at 13, scoring 22 goals in 2002 and a team-leading 29 goals in 46 games this year.

He led the U.S. team to the quarter-finals of the under-17 world championships in Finland in August, scoring three goals in the opener and the winning goal in the second game.

Several top European teams were interested in Adu, including Manchester United, Chelsea and PSV Eindhoven. But European soccer's complicated rules probably would have limited him to a youth team rather than a top club until 2007, when he turns 18.

Freddy Adu, shown here at the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship, will make a reported half million dollars in his inaugural season in the US football league
In MLS, he can play as soon as DC United thinks he's ready. It also allows him to stay at home.

In other top MLS draft picks, Columbus took defender Chad Marshall of Stanford with the second pick. Los Angeles followed by taking Joseph Ngwenya, who played for Coastal Carolina.

Two trades were made involving first-round selections. Kansas City moved up to No. 4, selecting UCLA forward Matt Taylor, by trading two players to be named and the No. 7 pick to the Dallas Burn.

New England traded the No. 9 pick to the Chicago Fire for a player allocation tied to Peter Nowak's retirement.

San Jose had the No. 5 pick, taking defender Ryan Cochrane of Santa Clara. The sixth pick was Ramon Nunez, who played at SMU. He went to Dallas.