Unwilling to alter contract, Adu dismissed from Union


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

As playoffs near, newcomer Alejandro Bedoya delivers message to Union

As playoffs near, newcomer Alejandro Bedoya delivers message to Union

CHESTER, Pa. — When the Union coaches were about to wrap up a team meeting earlier this week, Alejandro Bedoya raised his hand.

The new midfielder had something he wanted to say.

“I was able to give a talk to the team Monday and let them know we’re all in this together, this is the end of the season, guys are playing for their livelihoods really,” Bedoya said Wednesday. “We don’t know what’s gonna happen next season. Some guys are gonna retire, some guys are gonna leave, get traded, go somewhere else. 

“This is a great opportunity we have in front of us now with the playoffs and trying to win an MLS Cup here in Philly.”

Bedoya, of course, is one of the team’s least-tenured players, coming over in August from France for his first stint in MLS. And there are other players on the team who have worn the captain’s armband, including Brian Carroll, Tranquillo Barnetta and Maurice Edu.

But Bedoya, a U.S. national team starter who forged a successful career in Europe, brings a unique viewpoint into what will be his first foray into the MLS Cup playoffs. And Curtin was happy to see his new midfielder emerge as a locker room leader after a lifeless 2-0 loss to Orlando City SC on Sunday sunk the Union's chances of possibly hosting a game when the playoffs begin next week.

“To be honest, it’s one of the first time it’s happened, where guys put their hand up and looked in the mirror, which is important,” Curtin said. “I think that shows good leadership, it shows we are a team that’s in this thing together. It’s kind of commonplace for the coach to take blame and put his hand up because I am ultimately in charge of the lineup and what goes out there. But for whatever reason, on the day it just wasn’t us, it didn’t feel like us. And to have guys recognize that was important.”

Bedoya certainly took his share of the blame for the loss to Orlando, admitting he wasn’t at his best after returning from a rib injury that held him out of two recent U.S. national team games.

To be fair though, nobody was at their best, which made for an awkward situation after the game when the Union learned they all but guaranteed a playoff berth — thanks to a Chicago Fire win over the New England Revolution — but didn’t much feel like celebrating.

“It doesn’t take a genius to look at that game and say that was a lackluster effort at best,” Bedoya said. “For us, it’s just staying optimistic. We know we have a great group of guys. We know we have a good team. When we’re playing well, when we’re on our game, we can compete with anybody in this league.”

The Union will get a chance to show that when they host the New York Red Bulls in Sunday’s regular-season finale (4 p.m., TCN). 

The Red Bulls are an MLS Cup contender and have the top seed in the East all but locked up. The Union are also firmly planted into their own spot, so the game doesn’t have many implications aside from Red Bulls striker Bradley Wright-Phillips’ Golden Boot chase.

But for the Union, the game is still being viewed as a big one because the last thing they want is to enter the playoffs on a seven-game winless streak — and then, perhaps, enter the offseason on an eight-game winless streak, a dubious distinction that would cast a shadow over the accomplishment of making the playoffs for just the second time in club history.

“It’s very important,” Bedoya said. “I think it’s more than about pride. You gotta play for yourself, for each other. You’re representing this club, this organization, this city. I think we know the last performance was not good enough, not nearly good enough at all. It can only be better. We just have to try to get a result and play our best so we can get some momentum going into the playoffs.”

Considering the Union are playing the best team in the East followed by a playoff game against possibly Toronto FC or New York City FC — two teams loaded with stars — any win from here on out would be considered an upset. 

But Bedoya is a star in his own right, and the team’s new Designated Player is trying his best to spread a positive message heading into what will be the defining moments of the 2016 season.

And his teammates are listening.

“Definitely, he is a big-time player, a guy who can make big plays and make stuff for us and it’s great to have him,” goalkeeper Andre Blake said. “I think on any given day, when all the guys are bought-in and sharp, we can stand up against any team and give it a good run. And I think hopefully this Sunday, we can get back on a run going into the playoffs.”

Winless in 6 straight, Union struggling heading into playoffs

Winless in 6 straight, Union struggling heading into playoffs

CHESTER, Pa. — The Union have mixed emotions about Sunday’s loss. 

Despite an inexplicable and disappointing 2-0 defeat to Orlando City SC at Talen Energy Stadium, the club effectively fell forward into the playoffs (see story)

“It feels funny,” Union manager Jim Curtin said. “I’m not sure how to feel good about it because we know we can do better.”

That’s because the Union needed help to get in. The New England Revolution, who lost to the Chicago Fire on Sunday, 2-1, would now need a win, a Union loss and gain plus-12 in goal differential in their season finale to unseat the Union. 

The Revs have 39 points and the Union have 42, with one match remaining. In other words, the Union will make the postseason for the first time since 2011. Still, Curtin isn't pleased.

“We could have set ourselves up with a home game,” said Curtin, whose club is assured the No. 5 or No. 6 seed depending on next weekend’s season finale result. “That’s slipped away now. That’s the reality of things and we have to deal with that.”

Aside from the loss bringing the Union down, the club is in a terrible slump that just seems to be getting worse. Curtin’s team is winless in its last six games and hasn’t won a game since late August. The way the Union are trending, making the playoffs but getting unceremoniously ejected in one game is nothing to celebrate.

“You can’t just limp into the playoffs and expect to turn it on,” veteran Chris Pontius said. “That doesn’t happen. If you look at teams that were lower seeds that have made runs, they made runs late in the season leading up to the playoffs, they were good. It could be amazing what one good game could do for people’s confidence so next weekend is big for us.”

If there is good news for the Union, it’s that there is time to recover. The club hosts the New York Red Bulls on Sunday at Talen Energy Stadium. And a win could mean the difference between playing Toronto FC, New York City FC or D.C. United. It could also mean much-needed confidence. 

“We will use this last game to have a good performance and something to be proud of for our fans, because they deserve that,” Curtin said. “They deserve better than today. Again, I still wouldn’t want to play us.