7. Freddy Adu
It’s tough to label someone who’s just 20-years old a bust, but the expectations heaped upon Freddy Adu at such a young age were nearly impossible to live up to. The praise poured on Adu read like those Chuck Norris jokes.
From an article in Sports Illustrated in March of 2003:
"In his first organized basketball game two years ago, a jayvee contest for The Heights School in Potomac, Freddy scored 28 points. On the first golf hole he ever played, a 370-yard par-4, Freddy reached the green in two and two-putted for par. In his first art competition as a fifth-grader, his drawing won the top county prize."
At just 10 years old, Adu dominated an under-14 tournament, winning the MVP as his team won the competition. In 2003, US national team coach Bruce Arena said, “Freddy’s without a doubt the most talented kid we’ve ever seen at that age.” Adu was getting offers from all over the globe to play soccer, with Inter Milan offering a six-figure deal to oversee his development. But Adu stayed in the States and signed with DC United of the MLS. Adu was 14 years-old when he inked his deal and became the youngest athlete ever to sign a professional contract in the United States.
If Freddy Adu didn’t have such lofty expectations put upon him he would be considered quite successful. He played in all 30 games his first season with DC United and scored 5 goals and had 3 assists. He was captain of the United States U-20 men's national team in which he scored a hat trick at the group stage of the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup. He also was one of 18 members of the United States’ 2008 Olympic team.
But Adu has yet to become the face of American soccer and elevate the game to be competitive with the best international competition has to offer. Good luck trying to live up to those expectations.