Freddy Adu… America's Dream Answered?

What does international football (soccer) have to do with chess? In a word, nothing… but maybe everything. The similarities between chess and soccer are too great to ignore… defense and attacking formations… strategy… coordination… endurance. 

Even if one cannot appreciate the chessic beauty of soccer, it is still easy to marvel at phenomenal talent in any sport. Not since the great Brazilian Pélé graced us with his presence on the field has there been so much excitement about a U.S.-based soccer player. This excitement surrounds a 14-year old striker named
Freddy Adu.

Adu immigrated to the U.S. with his mother from Ghana at the age of 8 after she won an immigration lottery. He has since become a U.S. citizen and has represented his adopted nation on the under-17 team. While he has attracted the attention of top European clubs such as Manchester United and Inter Milan, the Adu family has spurned all offers… some as high as $750,00o.

Freddy Adu

Freddy Adu

Recently, young Freddy has signed a lucrative six-year contract to play for DC United in the American Major Soccer League. This is perhaps a blessing since soccer has been struggling to find an niche in a nation with a deep, but varied sports culture. However things may change with Adu's emergence. To give one an idea of Adu's talent, John Ellinger, coach of U.S. under-17  team was awestruck.

On one play, running at full speed, the kid fielded a pass on the outside of his left foot, flicked it up and over his head--and over the defender--and corralled the ball without breaking stride. "I couldn't believe my eyes... and then he goes and does it again, this time with the other foot," says Ellinger. "When I asked him, 'Do you realize the things you're doing out there?' he shook his head. All I could think was, 'Good Lord, son'."

I've seen attackers such as Nigeria's flashy wizard
Augustine Okocha "ball flick" over a defender's head and get the ball in one motion, but certainly Adu's speed and chess-like calculating ability makes him even deadlier. Using sports slang… the young man's got "mad skills."  In a recent news flash, Adu has been named to the U.S. under-20 team to replace the injured forward, Arturo Alvarez. The decision is pending approval by FIFA, the international governing body for soccer. Keep an eye out for this future star!

Dr. Daaim Shabazz, The Chess Drum

Posted by The Chess Drum: 20 November 2003