Unwilling to alter contract, Adu dismissed from Union

986643.jpg

Unwilling to alter contract, Adu dismissed from Union

WAYNE, Pa. -- The Union gave Freddy Adu an ultimatum.

Renegotiate your contract, abide by certain team rules and stay with the Union for a third season, or start looking for a new home. And as the Union began training camp on Monday at YSC Sports without Adu, the players choice was clear.

We presented Freddy with a couple scenarios, where we felt comfortable with bringing him back under certain conditions, Union coach John Hackworth said. Freddy came back and said he would stick with his current situation. He made it very clear. He knew that if he made that choice, he would not be coming back as part of this team.

Basically, what we did was say was 'If youre ready to renegotiate and come back under some different guidelines, well be happy to talk. If you dont want to do that, we want you to clearly understand you wont be back with us next year.' He knew that. Freddy and I have had enough conversations, communication was very clear between he and I and his representatives.

Adus dismissal from the club does not come as a surprise, as the 23-year-old midfielder never fully conformed to the Union under Hackworth, who took over for Peter Nowak in June of 2012. There is some surprise that the decision to move on without him wasnt completely financial. Adu made nearly 500,000 for his lackluster performace last season.

When it comes to the contractual part, it was financial, Hackworth said. But a lot of it had to do with the role Freddy would play within our team. Especially, when you compare him and his stature in our locker room relative to the guys who were in there.

He has talent, there is no question about that. But how he puts that all together is up to Freddy. For us, it didnt amount to what we expected, not for what we want for this team going forward and not for the philosophy that this team was founded on.

Although its unclear what exactly Adu did to sour the Union, money and performance certainly played a part in his demise. One of the biggest and most intriguing names in American soccer, Adu, since he was 14, has carried with him huge expectations -- a great realization of his immense talent. But his skill, and more importantly his paycheck, have never seemed to match his on-field production.

Freddy is a very talented young man and Ive said it many times. I dont think people have an appreciation for Freddy like I do, as far as what he can do on the field and what he is capable of, Hackworth said. But he certainly didnt meet the lofty expectations placed on him with our team. And that was ultimately what it came down to.

Since joining the club in Aug. 2011, Adu managed seven goals in 35 games. However, in the 34-game 2012 campaign, Adu was an unused sub in 10 of the 24 games in which he was on the roster. When asked if the signing was an error from the beginning, Hackworth said it wasnt his choice to make at the time, but that Adus contract length and value handcuffed the team.

Being honest, he is on a long-term contract that makes it hard in this league with salary cap restrictions, to do some things, to have a player like that who doesnt fit into your plans, he said.

He was given plenty opportunities to play and play a significant role for us and be the player we expected him to be when we signed him. That didnt happen. You can look at numbers, stats. It didnt happen for us as a team or for Freddy. It didnt work.

But with regards to an official transfer, where does Adu go from here?

Were trying to make sure we find a solution thats good for the Philadelphia Union and Freddy, said Hackworth. We want him to go on and have a very successful career -- hes only 23. He has a lot of front of him. At the same time, it has to be something that works for us, as well.

Weve been working on this for a long time and we will continue. Right now, the international window is open and its a continuing process. From our side and Freddys side, were working on it.

With his dismissal from the Union, Adu is moving to his ninth different professional club since 2004, making him a tough sell. Hackworth, however, seemed to have the sales pitch down.

There are lots of teams around the world who are interested, said the coach. He certainly has a name that has a lot of value and coaches look at the types of things he is able to do as a player.

E-mail Ryan Bright at RyanBright13@comcastsportsnet.com

Will Keegan Rosenberry's benching spark second-year Union defender?

Will Keegan Rosenberry's benching spark second-year Union defender?

CHESTER, Pa. — Over the years, there have been few certainties for the Union, a franchise often in flux. But since the start of the 2016 season, there was at least one: Keegan Rosenberry.

The right back played every minute of his rookie season last year — the only player in MLS to do so — while earning spots in the MLS All-Star game and last January’s U.S. national team camp. And through the first six games of 2017, he once again never came off the field.

But with the team sputtering and Rosenberry not playing as well as he did as a rookie, Union head coach Jim Curtin benched last year’s MLS Rookie of the Year finalist for this past Saturday’s game vs. Montreal.

The Union defense didn’t get any better, giving up three unanswered goals in a brutal 3-3 draw with the Impact. But Curtin hopes the benching could be the spark Rosenberry needs to return to form and regain his place in the starting lineup, possibly for this Saturday’s road tilt against the star-studded LA Galaxy (10:30 p.m., TCN).

“Keegan is obviously a great player for us — a guy who played a ton of minutes, a guy who had never missed a minute since he’s been here,” Curtin said. “I thought it was important for him. He’s been a little caught in two minds between the attack and defending, and maybe lacking a little bit of confidence. At the same time, he was giving maximum effort.

“I had a talk with him. It’s a hard decision but I decided in some instances it’s good … to sit back and watch. That sounds like a coach talking, but I have been in those moments and you’re disappointed as a player to watch, but it also can re-light a little bit of a fire.”

It helps, too, when the replacement is Ray Gaddis, the club’s second longest-tenured player and someone with over 100 MLS starts to his name. And even though he was relegated to a reserve role last year after being a starter for the three seasons before that, Gaddis is never someone who needs to be reminded to stay ready.

“We have a saying in our family, ‘You stay ready so you don’t have to get ready,’” Gaddis said. “It’s not that hard when you have good teammates. It’s a testament to them. They’re pushing me every week in training, and I approach every practice session like it’s a game.”

Considering the Union allowed three goals last weekend, no defender received many plaudits after the game. But none of the goals were really the fault of Gaddis, who showed the same kind of speed and defensive ability that has made him a successful MLS player.

“Ray had a good game,” Curtin said. “Ray did a really good job in his defending, gave us some really good 1 v. 1 defending winning his duels. It’s not easy for a guy who’s been out and has not played 90 in a while to go through the physicality of that. But he emptied his tank, gave everything for the shirt, which he always does. I think he’s one of the best 1 v. 1 defenders that our league has.”

Perhaps the most interesting part of Philly’s backline setup was that Gaddis played alongside rookie Jack Elliott, marking the second time in MLS history that two West Virginia University alums started the same match. That was a cool thing for Gaddis, who’s tried to help bring Elliott up to speed after the London-born center back was taken in the fourth round of this year’s draft.

“He’s a humble kid like myself, and that’s what I like about him,” Gaddis said. “He plays hard and that’s what our university produces — hard workers.

“I’m a team-first guy,” he added. “I’m looking at my teammates. They’re looking at me and I’ve been here a while. They’re looking for a push. They’re looking for some cohesion in the back to bring us together. And i feel like I’ve been here a while, so [I can] be a leader on and off the field.”

While Gaddis is certainly an important contributor to this team, he may not stay in the starting lineup for long. Rosenberry remains one of the team’s brightest young stars and may get his job back this weekend vs. the Galaxy — a team he scored his first MLS goal on in last season’s matchup.

“If we’re going to get out of this thing — and Keegan and I have talked about it — he’s going to be a big part of us fighting our way out of it,” Curtin said. “He’s still an important player for us, a very good outside back in this league. And right now, we’re trying to find the right pieces of the puzzle to get that first win.”

Fragile Union doomed to draw with Impact by 'soft defense'

Fragile Union doomed to draw with Impact by 'soft defense'

CHESTER, Pa. -- For 46 minutes, the Union suffered in slow motion. 

After claiming an impressive 3-0 lead, the winless club allowed unanswered goals in the 41st, 69th and 87th minute, as they gradually deteriorated against the Montreal Impact on Saturday at Talen Energy Stadium (see Game Recap).

"It feels like a loss," Union captain Alejandro Bedoya said. "It's hard to stomach."

The decline started with Ignacio Piatti. With his club trailing by three, the Impact's most dangerous player sliced through the Union midfield and took advantage of sagging Union defenders, reached the top of the box and fired off a low shot that beat Andre Blake.

"We let up a soft goal with Piatti coming inside," Bedoya said. "I probably should have fouled him first. Chris [Pontius] could have fouled him. We didn't step up in time."

The goal lit a fire under the Impact. It was a momentum-turner that gave the visitors life and squashed the Union's morale, setting in motion a crushing second half. 

"Goals change games," said Union manager Jim Curtin, whose club, led by goals from C.J. Sapong and Roland Alberg dominated the early portion of the first half. "The one before half gives them a little bit of life, a little bit of hope that it's not just going to be a day where they lay down. They continued to fight."

If the fragile Union weren't panicking at the half, they certainly began to tense up in the 69th minute, when a left-side cross from Ambroise Oyongo allowed Anthony Jackson-Hamel to beat Richie Marquez to the inside for the header. 

"It was truly one where you can say they made a good play," Curtin said. "It's a very good cross, a good header where the guy gets in between the center backs. You can tip your cap and say that's a good goal."

Bedoya thought it was a case of soft defense.

"If you keep dropping back and play soft defense and allow second balls in the box, and don't put bodies on guys in the box, you get punished," Bedoya said. "That's what happened to us today."

Eighteen minutes later, the Union were crushed. Jackson-Hamel scored his second and tied the match when a Matteo Mancuso bounce shot hit the hands of Andre Blake and dribbled into the goal. The Impact attacker caught Union defender Jack Elliott ball watching and punished Blake for the gaffe with an easy goal off the rebound.

The collapse was complete.

"We had enough guys in the box, you can see there was five defenders in the box," Curtin said. "The guy shoots from outside the box, it takes a skip and it's a tough hop for Andre. We had enough guys behind the ball, it's about making individual plays. That is killing us right now."