Thursday, July 24, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Philadelphia Union manager John Hackworth calls Freddy Adu the team's 'elephant in the room'

The Union have acknowledged that they are trying to get rid of Freddy Adu. (AP file photo)
The Union have acknowledged that they are trying to get rid of Freddy Adu. (AP file photo)

Philadelphia Union manager John Hackworth has acknowledged that the team is trying to get rid of Freddy Adu, the team's highest-paid player.

In an e-mail to Union season ticket holders, a copy of which was obtained by Philly.com, Hackworth admitted that Adu "is not a part of our plans going forward," and has become an "elephant in the room" for the team.

The Union convenes its first preseason training camp on Monday at YSC Sports in Wayne. It will include a practice session that is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

But as Hackworth said at last week's SuperDraft, Adu won't be there.

"We presented Freddy with an option to come back and play for the Philadelphia Union" on a different contract, Hackworth wrote. "However, Freddy chose to stick with his current contract, which was not an option we were willing to accept."

Hackworth then acknowledged a situation which was first reported by Philly.com at the end of last season: the Union's difficulties with Adu have been ongoing for some time.

"At the moment, Freddy has not been sold nor loaned and he continues to be our player," Hackworth wrote. "But in reality, while we are paying his salary and while we have his rights – he is not a part of our plans going forward ... The next step for him is one that we have been trying to work on since October, which is to see if there is a viable option to sell or loan him that makes sense for our organization and for Freddy."

Hackworth then turned his attention to the Union's two SuperDraft picks. Amid some public criticism of the team's decision to not draft a defender, Hackworth backed both selections.

"I know that the draft board described him as a forward, but we did not pick Don Anding as one," Hackworth wrote. "We picked him because he was literally one of the most athletic players available in the draft and in fact, the fastest player at the [pre-draft MLS] Combine."

Hackworth described midfielder Stephen Okai, the team's second draft selection, as "one of the, if not the, best passers in the entire draft."

"Physically and mentally, Stephen is probably one of the most ready players to join an MLS club and contribute right away," Hackworth added.

He also confirmed that the team's draft-day decisions were made because the team had made other signings.

"The chatter of us needing to draft a left back was laughable," Hackworth said. "We'd already reached an agreement with Damani Richards, who was on trial with us for the last month of this past season."

Though rumors of Richards' arrival surfaced on Thursday at the SuperDraft, the Union did not confirm the deal when asked by reporters that day. It was not officially announced until Saturday afternoon.

Richards has experience playing for Trinidad and Tobago's under-20 national team. Hackworth will hope that he solves what has been a long-running problem at left back for the Union.

"Damani is a true left back and we feel as though he had more potential to be developed than any left back we saw in the draft," Hackworth wrote. "Yes he's young and we need to develop him, but this is a player with international experience, who is extremely gifted athletically."

Hackworth further addressed these subjects in his first press conference of the year Monday afternoon. Read about what he had to say here.

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
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