Adu happy to be practicing with U.S. national team
CARSON, Calif. -- Freddy Adu remembers the day he found out he had earned a shot at making this year's U.S. World Cup roster.
"I actually saved that e-mail," he said, smiling. "It was so exciting for me."
The 16-year-old is among 28 players who reported this week to the national team's first training camp of the year. Adu, who had never been invited to practice with the national team before, ran and went through shooting drills Thursday during the first full day of workouts, then played a scrimmage in which his side won.
"I'm actually looking to impress right now," he said. "I'm going to work my butt off. I'm going to do whatever I have to do to try and make this team because that's always been my goal. There's no holding back now."
At the same time, the D.C. United forward is considered a long shot to make the 23-man roster, and he knows it.
"Half the team is already sorted out with the European guys," he said. "Realistically, there are maybe two or three spots left on the team."
Coach Bruce Arena said Thursday that he expects half the roster to be comprised of European-based Americans, with the other half coming from Major League Soccer.
"Our expectations for Freddy are not great," he said. "It's just good to get him in here and give him a feel of what this is about with the national team and see where he is and compare him with others."
But Adu isn't letting that get him down.
"You never know what might happen," he said. "They might take you for a different reason, other than being out there and scoring goals. They might even take you for being a good teammate."
Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley were just 20 at the 2002 World Cup, and the pair helped the Americans to a quarterfinal finish _ the best showing for the United States since 1930. Donovan doesn't discount Adu's chances.
"Just watching him today, he's a lot more comfortable, a lot more confident than the first time I saw him," Donovan said. "I don't think Bruce brings too many people in to just gain experience. If he thinks he can help us, he's going to bring him."
Donovan was vacationing on St. Lucia, with no access to television or the Internet, when the World Cup draw took place on Dec. 9.
"One of the locals randomly told me," he said. "Clearly, the look on his face told me right away, `I don't know if you want to hear this."'
When the United States gets to Germany, it opens against the Czech Republic on June 12, plays Italy five days later and closes the first round against Ghana on June 22.
"It's going to be tough," Donovan said. "I don't think people expected us to get out last time, and people aren't going to expect us to get out this time."
Adu, just 14 when he made his professional debut for D.C United in April 2004, also is eligible to play for his native Ghana, but when asked if that door had closed, he replied, "Yeah."
"Right now, I'm not even thinking about anything else but concentrating on this camp," he said. "I can't let any distractions come along right now."
The United States has exhibition games against Canada on Jan. 22 at San Diego, Norway on Jan. 29 in Carson, and Japan on Feb. 10 at San Francisco.
"Hopefully, I make a good impression and hopefully, I can get to suit up for the United States in one of these friendly games," Adu said.
Adu has smoothed things over with D.C. United after being suspended for the team's MLS playoff opener. He had publicly complained about a perceived lack of playing time last season, saying it had ruined his chances of making the World Cup team.
After the season, Adu, his agent and his mother sat down with officials from D.C. United and MLS. Later, he met separately with coach Peter Nowak.
"It just came down to an issue of miscommunication. My coach and myself were not communicating well," he said. "I love the guys on the team and I wouldn't want to leave them for anybody else."
Adu said he learned a valuable lesson from the fallout.
"When you think you've learned everything, there's always something else that comes along," he said.