For quite a while now, there have been rumors linking Freddy Adu with the Philadelphia Union. Time and again, though, they never came to anything.
Well, now they have.
Ives Galarcep of Fox Sports and Steven Goff of the Washington Post reporting that the Union have finally signed Adu, conveniently at the same time that Adu is here in Philadelphia with the U.S. national team.
Although multiple sources at the Union refused to confirm or deny anything, they did tell me that the club will hold a press conference tomorrow at noon to introduce a new signing.
I'm pretty sure that at least one of the sources confirming the deal is Adu's agent, Richard Motzkin. Both he and Adu are on Twitter, and have been hinting that there is news to come today.
Kerith Gabriel of the Daily News got a hold of Adu at the U.S.-Mexico game last night, and was told by Adu: "I can't say anything, man, I'm sworn to secrecy."
But if there was any remaining doubt, Union youth technical director Alecko Eskandarian tweeted: "Uh ohhhhhhh. Looks like the band is getting back together..........."
Eskandarian, Adu and Union team coordinator Josh Gros all played on Nowak's 2004 MLS Cup-winning D.C. United squad.
According to Galarcep, Adu was apparently set to sign with Chivas USA as a designated player, but the Goats balked on the deal at the last minute. The Union were second in the allocation order for U.S. national team players returning to MLS, so they made the move for him.
According to Goff, Major League Soccer is working out a deal with Benfica, the Portuguese club who currently owns Adu, to get the player's full rights. Adu will then join the Union via the allocation system
Adu knows Union manager Peter Nowak quite well - perhaps too well. Nowak was in charge of D.C. United when Adu signed on with the club as a 14-year-old, and it wasn't the most harmonious marriage in MLS history.
Despite all the hype surrounding Adu, and despite a considerable amount of demand to see him play a lot, Nowak didn't care. Adu was never a regular starter - though it has been lost to history somewhat that Adu only sat out seven games in his three years in D.C.
At the end of the 2006 season, Nowak and Adu had seen enough of each other. Adu moved to Real Salt Lake in 2007, then was bought by Portuguese club Benfica for $2 million in late July of that year.
Adu and Nowak were re-united on the 2008 Olympic team. Adu never scored, and missed the U.S.' final group game due to yellow card accumulation.
So what happens now? Well, it certainly seems to everyone who has followed Adu that he has matured. Although he didn't speak to the media in Philadelphia while with the national team - was this why? - Adu is a different person now than he was back then.
Perhaps it's because Adu has been at five different clubs in his five years in Europe, spread over four different countries. After Benfica signed Adu, they loaned him to French club AS Monaco, Portugese second-division club Belelenses and Greek club Aris.
(Yes, that's the same club Carlos Ruiz was with before coming to Philadelphia. Former U.S. national team forward Eddie Johnson also played there at one point.)
Adu was loaned out once more this past February, to Turkish second-division club Çaykur Rizespor. A lot of people wondered just what was going on, and lamented the fact that a player with such promise had fallen that far.
But Adu managed to get a decent amount of playing time with Rizespor, and slowly started building himself back up.
Then, seemingly out of nowhere, U.S. national team coach Bob Bradley called Adu into the U.S. roster for the Gold Cup. If that wasn't enough to get people talking, Adu started in the championship game against Mexico, and set up Michael Bradley for the game's first goal.
Now Adu has come almost entirely full-circle. He is back in the United States, back with Nowak, and joining a club that is not all that far from his family's home in Rockville, Md.
Can Nowak get the best out of Adu this time? We'll find out soon. Carlos Ruiz was supposed to be this year's marquee forward, but his personality clashed with Nowak's in a fashion that made me think of Adu more than a few times.
As with the Ruiz signing, Nowak knows what he's getting into. If Adu really has matured, he will give a big boost to the Union's attack. But if Adu and Nowak struggle to get along again, the move could backfire.
Do you think the Adu signing will work out for the Union? Have your say in the comments.