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By ESPN Staff

Adu says Real Salt Lake is 'best place for me'

SALT LAKE CITY -- Freddy Adu will wear the red-and-blue Real Salt Lake jersey through the 2007 season. Beyond that it's anybody's guess where the young soccer star will kick the ball. He was traded to Real on Monday, after three sometimes tumultuous years with D.C. United. The one-year contract has options through 2009, but Adu becomes eligible to play outside the U.S. when he turns 18 in June. "I don't know what happens in June. I'm sitting back and waiting, too," Adu said Tuesday during his first public appearance. "The most important thing for me is to make sure this team makes it to the playoffs." Adu said he wanted the Salt Lake trade because it's a chance to play midfielder. It's also another opportunity to play for John Ellinger, who coached him on the U.S. Under-17 team when Adu was just 12. "This is the best place for me to be and the right place for me to be as far as developing in my natural position," Adu said, adding that Real's stable of experienced players will help him grow. Adu joins a struggling team that has posted two consecutive losing seasons. The 2007 season opens April 7. Adu joined Major League Soccer in 2004, when at age 14 he was selected No. 1 by D.C. United and became the youngest player ever drafted into the league. Talks to bring Adu to Salt Lake City began in November with a telephone call from Adu's manager, Ellinger said. Under the deal, Real also gets D.C. United goalie Nick Rimando. In exchange, Real gives up rights to goalkeeper Jay Nolly, along with a major player allocation and future considerations. Besides helping Real reach the playoffs, Adu said his goal is to earn a spot on the U.S. National team, playing "attacking midfielder" in the World Cup. In the past, Adu has said he aspired to play for a European team, prompting speculation that he would look for a spot overseas as soon as he's eligible. He recently spent several weeks working out with England's Manchester United. His experience in Salt Lake City could be a factor in his future. "Things might go well, things might not go well," he said. "But I can't say that a team's going to come in and make me an offer. You never know the future, so you don't look ahead. You just live in the present and take it one day at a time and just keep getting better and better." Real officials said they expect Adu to be courted by European teams but hope he'll still be wearing their uniform in 2008 when the team plans to move into a new stadium in Sandy, a Salt Lake City suburb. "We just hope that we can postpone those for a while," general manager Steve Pastorino said of Adu's European plans. "We wouldn't have entered into this transaction without the belief that Freddy would be here."