Several Major League Soccer teams released their preseason rosters yesterday, and there were quite a few notable names on them. Four in particular stood out due to their connection to the U.S. national team.
The name that caused the biggest stir is Freddy Adu, who is trialing with the Portland Timbers in Arizona.
I'm hearing among the trialists joining PTFC in Tucson will be Freddy Adu, who has a relationship with Porter from USMNT U-23 days. #RCTID— Chris Rifer (@ChrisRifer) January 24, 2017
The 27-year old midfielder was most recently with the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the NASL, making five appearances in 2016. There’s no need to recap Adu’s story, as everyone (both soccer and non-soccer fans) is already familiar. The trial is a reunion for the player and Timbers manager Caleb Porter, who intersected with the U.S. Under-23 national team in 2012 Olympic Qualifying.
The Philadelphia Union have two USMNT notables in camp, one former and one current. Center back Oguchi Onyewu is training with the team to “maintain fitness”, and head coach Jim Curtin insisted that it is “not a trial.” However, Sporting Director Earnie Stewart left the door slightly ajar by stating, “Never say never,” a clear reference to noted philosopher Justin Bieber’s treatise on the open-ended nature of life.
Fabrice “Fafa” Picault is also on trial with the Union. The 25-year old speedster, currently under contract with 2. Bundesliga club FC St. Pauli, made his national team debut last May in a friendly against Puerto Rico.
And last, but certainly not least, Minnesota United has Eugene Starikov on its preseason roster. In the past, the 28-year old attacker was a popular inclusion on the ever recyclable “CALL HIM UP NOW” listicles (here’s mine from Monday). The former Zenit Saint Petersburg player spent time with the U-23 national team and even earned a call up to January camp in 2011. Starikov is currently a free agent after a recent stint at Ukranian club Chornomorets Odesa.
(Update: Add one more. Robbie Findley is on trial with the New York Red Bulls. The 31-year old was on Bob Bradley’s squad for the 2010 World Cup.)
Professional soccer has few guarantees. The high potential players of yesterday do not automatically become the stars of today or the legends of tomorrow. Most live a nomadic life, travelling from club to club and attempting to earn a spot for the next season. Perhaps one roots more strongly for those notable names of yesteryear to experience a resurgence in their careers because nostalgia provides a comforting warmth as we all get depressingly older.