American Soccer Savior (always that word, savior)

But there’s another factor, too. The U.S. has produced teenage soccer players with the potential to be world class, but the all too common result has been prospects who thought they had “made it” by simply signing a healthy contract or joining a European club. Coddled by youth coaches and handlers, pumped up by the leagues, and showered with premature accolades by media and sponsors searching for the elusive American Soccer Savior (always that word, savior), these putative Chosen Ones decided they had climbed Mount Everest when all they had done was reach base camp. No example of the phenomenon is more sobering than that of Freddy Adu,who joined D.C. United at age 14 as the highest-paid player in Major League Soccer in 2004 and headlined a national television advertising campaign that year with Pele. Though Adu showed flashes of talent for U.S. youth national teams, he never earned the trust of a coach at club level, where he played for 13 teams in 13 years, and was last seen riding the bench in the U.S. second division,a cautionary tale of blinding promise unfulfilled.

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