Sunday, April 17, 2011

The hype machine that is Juan Agudelo

The next golden child for US Soccer has arrived in the shape of an 18 year old forward originally from Colombia: Juan Agudelo. Considered by many to be the best United States soccer prospect, the young forward has impressed in limited time with the senior team. Although he has only 4 caps for the National Team, he's made the most of them with a game winning goal versus South Africa in his first cap, and a game tying goal against the vaunted Lionel Messi-led Argentina side. Immediately after the Argentina game, sports media outlets were not shy about sharing proclamations about how Agudelo is "America's next big soccer star" or "the future of the USMNT". His stock has skyrocketed and his presence in the soccer world state side has gone through the roof.

Wait a second...the last American soccer 'poster boy', or even Pelé as some foolishly suggested was Freddy Adu. The immensely talented Ghanaian, who turned down a multi-million dollar offer made by Inter Milan at 13 years of age made his first MLS appearance at 14 years old after being selected as the top overall pick by D.C. United. He unfairly was supposed to resurrect soccer in the country and truthfully he did enhance the interest in the floundering MLS. Various marketing schemes in the forms of commercials and product placement plastered Adu's face all over MLS paraphernalia, thus making Adu a household name. With that notoriety came immense pressure and promise, which Adu has failed to live up to. Since Adu made the move to Portuguese side Benfica in 2007, he has bounced around 4 countries and 5 teams while battling conditioning and maturity issues. The huge promise that surrounded the (only) 21 year old has all but vanished as the embattled Adu is currently applying his trade in the second division in Turkey for Rizespor. Using Adu as an example, should US Soccer fans pump the breaks on the Agudelo train?

Sure, Agudelo is extremely talented. He possesses not only great skill and pace, but a maturity beyond his years. His willingness to attack defenders 1 v 1 is not seen very much with American forwards and his knack for scoring is sorely missing on the USMNT. His interviews are extremely impressive and he comes off as a very bright kid. Rumors are that Atlético Madrid in Spain and other European teams are sniffing around Agudelo, but Juan insists that he wants to play and get minutes in the MLS for his club side NY Red Bulls. What is the point going to Europe at 18 years old to sit on the bench when he can play consistently close to home? He understands the bigger picture and the humility displayed by Agudelo was all but lost by Adu who is considered to be very arrogant. But is that all Adu's fault? The United States has a habit of greatly glorifying 'the next best thing' whether it has to do with the sporting world or not. Adu fell to that pitfall, but time will tell if the same level of expected greatness will hinder Agudelo. For the USMNT and American soccer fans, let's hope not.



  1. I must say, this blog is one of the best out there for U.S. Soccer...

  2. hahaha this is shit