DAVID SMITH - Thursday, July 9, 2009
Goncalo Lobo Pinhiro/ASF
Freddy is returning to Benfica
Freddy Adu is ending his long summer duty with the national team to prepare for the upcoming 2009/10 season, leaving the Gold Cup early to return to preseason with Benfica.

Despite being one of the few players to stay with the team since prior to early-June's World Cup qualifiers, the attacking midfielder's time on the field was limited to a scant 180 minutes spread out over two starts and one substitute appearance during the team's nine games in the same period.

While giving a promising performance including his seventh-minute goal in Saturday's opening match against Grenada, his subsequent appearance on Wednesday only lasted 63 minutes after making way for Charlie Davies as coach Bob Bradley searched for ways to break the hitherto scoreless deadlock.

After the game, Bradley confirmed that the young Adu would be leaving the team in an effort to gain a hold on his club situation which left him largely out in the cold for most of the previous season.

"This will be the last game that Freddy will be here for the Gold Cup," Bradley stated. "That was part of the arrangement from the start, and I think that he's going to have a few days break, then the challenge for him is to get back to Benfica and start to earn playing time."

While the Gold Cup knockout round would offer Adu the chance to compete against stiffer CONCACAF competition such as Costa Rica, Mexico or Canada, Bradley admits that players' contributions to what is a comparatively minor tournament cannot jeopardize the standing with their respective clubs as many of them fight to earn playing time - a factor the coach recognizes as vital for their consideration for future international duty.

"It's not a regular situation that you have two tournaments back to back, and we understand the importance for players to get into their clubs and play," he admits.

"Without that it's hard to be on the national team."

For the former DC United midfielder, this has come into painfully clear view over the last year, after a handful of strong performances during the summer and fall of 2008 seemed to have him set to become a regular, if not starter, for the Stars & Stripes.

Following what turned out to be an increasingly frustrating and fruitless season on loan to Ligue 1 club AS Monaco, Adu also saw his time with the Nats drying up, ultimately never taking the field in last months run through through the Confederations Cup.

"Obviously, it's important to get preseason in with your team," Adu himself recognizes. "It gives you the best chance of being a part of the team for this season so both the coaching staffs - my coaching staff here obviously and the coaching staff in Portugal - thought it was important."

While departing his fellow teammates prior to Saturday's final group stage game against Haiti, Adu's own future with Benfica is still to be determined as his place with the team is by no means certain.

The Lisbon-based team's pre-season has already gotten underway, as the players are currently in training camp in Switzerland through the middle of the month.

Adu is not expected to take part in the remainder of the camp, with his own future at the team still under consideration by the powers that be.

"The team is now in pre-season preparation in Switzerland until July 15," Benfica press coordinator Ricardo Maia confirmed, to YA. "We don't expect Adu to be joining the team in camp in Switzerland."

"After that I don't know," he continues. "It's a decision for our team's board."

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