Jamaica newyorkyardie

Chicarito, The USA men’s national team and the resurrection of Freddy

I’ve been  watching the CONCACAF Gold Cup the past couple of weeks. Jamaica versus the USA in the quarterfinals was of particular interest for obvious reasons. What looked like a potential upset in the making turned into a fiasco.The Jamaican team played sloppy, undisciplined and seemed completely overwhelmed by the US. While the USA made effective substitutions and adjustments, the Jamaican team failed to attack a US defense that in theory didn’t have the pace to keep up with them on the flanks or midfield. The USA played better against Panama in the semis, and with Freddy Adu, Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey meshing together, they move on to face Mexico in the finals.

Considering that Chicarito has as many goals (7) as the entire American team, I see Mexico winning this one.

Back to the Jamaica game for a minute though. There is one truism in every sport: a good defense usually wins championships, but you have to score when given chances. And to score, you need to shoot. Nice passing in the penalty area may look great on television and is something to brag about to you buddies over beer, but if you cant put the biscuit in the basket, none of that matters. The Spanish national team and Barcelona can string together amazing laser like passes in close quarters, but if your team-like the Jamaican team for instance-doesn’t have players on the level of Leo Messi, David Villa et al, your other option is to play and coach to your teams strengths. Pay attention, Jamaican coaches-develop your own style based on your teams strengths and make it work.

Speaking of Messi, in watching the USA v Panama game last week, I was struck by this dichotomy: Freddy Adu (R, with a man who needs no introductions) played for the American team, his first appearance in two years. He is currently trying to stick in Europe, but not with a team in any of the top four leagues. This from one of the most gifted American players of his generation. Approximately ten years ago, Adu signed with MLS as a precocious fourteen year old wunderkind. At the time there were offers from top flight clubs in England and Italy to join their academies and develop into a superstar. He didn’t, and has seen his career seesaw and flat-line at a time when he should be hitting his prime years as a professional.

Conversely, Messi was noticed at around the same age as Adu was signing deals with Nike. His family was given an opportunity to send the young prodigy to Spain to develop his game and treat a growth deficiency issue. While Messi hasn’t grown much in physical stature beyond where he was as a teen, his game has ballooned and expanded into that of a supernova, the biggest star on the best team in the world.

While no one knows if Adu could have ever approached those heights, I can state one thing for sure: Freddy Adu has more natural talent than any America player I have ever seen. He is a point guard on the football field, and his pass to set up the winning goal against Panama showed the type of guile that the entire Jamaican team has lacked for a very long time. You get to be the best by playing against and beating the best. When he was younger, people spoke of his ‘me’ attitude. It’s the same story said about every teenage superstar that has adults fawning and catering to their whims before they can even shave. After the game in interviews, Adu seemed happy, relaxed and grateful.

I hope Adu can get a chance with a top flight team in England, Spain or Italy to grow as a professional, because his talent is undeniable. He may never develop into a talent like Messi, but he can still fulfill the promise that everyone saw almost a decade ago. I wish him well.

About the author


Who's Dwight?

Well, for starters, i'm a Jamaican born resident of New York who loves sports, politics, books (reading and writing them) and meaningful debate. I'm also a published author of two books, several short stories and articles-with more on the way-and most importantly i'm never without an opinion. I try to keep abreast of the world around me and look at things from my perspective-which is sometimes irreverent, occasionally funny, frequently frank, and at times downright weird.

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