Saturday, April 03, 2004

Freddy Adu's Soccer Debut in the MLS

A sellout crowd for MLS opening day in D.C. got to see 14 year old Freddy Adu, the youngest player in MLS history, and the youngest person to play on a professional team in the U.S. in over 100 years. Adu did not start the game, but came on as a substitute in the second half. DC United hosted the San Jose Earthquakes.

In the first half, DC United had a free kick outside the left corner of the penalty area, and Jaime Moreno scored the first goal on a header to put DC up 1-0.

A few minutes later, the referee awarded San Jose a penalty kick after DC's keeper Nick Rimando fouled Brian Mullan as both players charged toward the ball. This call may have been a bit controversial, since Rimando was going for the ball, and arguably the contact was unintentional and incidental. But as I see it, the problem with Rimando's play was that he made no effort to avoid striking Mullan. Rimando went for the ball and missed, but afterwards he kept his arm extended and so his follow-through struck Mullan in the upper chest and neck area. Ekelund converted the penalty kick with a hard shot into the upper left corner of the net and tied the score at 1-1.

A few minutes later DC's Eskandarian scored on a low shot that went in off the right goalpost, with an assist by Moreno. This put DC up 2-1.

In the second half, DC almost scored a third goal when Bobby Convey went on a breakaway and dribbled past the goalkeeper, but his shot at the open net just barely missed wide left.

In the 58th minute, DC's Moreno beat 2 defenders and dribbled all the way to the goal line then shot from an impossible angle. The ball deflected off a defender's leg and into the net, but the referee signaled no goal, claiming that the ball had been out of bounds across the goal line before Moreno shot. Instant replay showed that the ball was not completely over the line and so it was still in bounds. The goal should have counted.

In the 61st minute, Freddy Adu came onto the field as a substitute. He played a calm and sensible game, without trying anything too fancy.

Landon Donovan almost tied the game in the 65th minute with a shot from the top of the area, but an acrobatic save by Rimando prevented the tying goal.

The game ended on an unpleasant note with two players getting red cards: one in the 76th minute to San Jose's Waibel for a dangerous tackle on Moreno, then another in the 80th minute to Kovalenko (DC) for elbowing.

The final score was 2-1 in favor of DC United.

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