Freddy Adu started as close to the top as a 13-year-old can get in American soccer. He wasn't just the Next Big Thing, like so many North American sports stars are, a new Michael Jordan or Wayne Gretzky or Joe Montana. He was supposed to be American soccer's First Big Thing, a trailblazer, a colossus, the true marriage of the world's game and American marketing power.
A decade on, you can pencil in the Philadelphia Union under the names D.C. United, Real Salt Lake, Benfica, AS Monaco, Os Belenenses, Aris Thessalonika, and Caykur Rizespor on the already lengthy list of Freddy Adu's former clubs.
Adu is now persona non grata at a Major League Soccer side that couldn't make the playoffs last season, a team that wants nothing more to do with the oversize contract of a troublesome player drifting ever further away from his teenage years, and rapidly burning through the last vestiges of his once-huge potential.