Brand Adu is in full effect as Freddy makes his Finnish debut

Freddy Adu made his first start today for his new Finnish club, Kuopion Palloseura (KuPS). So now it’s official: he’s back.

Adu played 66 minutes in a 1-0 victory over Finnish first division side Kotkan Työväen Palloilijat. The KuPS Ultras were beside themselves:

It’s been an interesting journey for the 25-year-old American Pele. After being irresponsibly touted as American soccer’s savior as a 14-year-old, Adu has spent the last decade trying to live up to an impossible standard that was hoisted onto his shoulders as a child. Now he’s in Finland trying to reignite his career. From the outside, it seems like a reasonable move if he can play soccer regularly. But it’s also hard to shake the sentiment that this whole thing feels a little off. At this point, anything that involves Adu, a soccer team and publicity should involve at least a little discomfort.

There’s no doubt that Adu is a skillful player, but after being cast aside by club after club, it’s almost impossible to not wonder why teams would keep taking the Adu plunge. A cynic would point out a few weird things about his new club situation, such as KuPS starting a Twitter account in English three days before signing Adu. It’s a reasonable marketing decision on the surface, but BRAND ADU once again seems to be in full effect.

The KuPS English Twitter account is basically a Freddy Adu feed.

Here’s the starting XI tweet from KuPS’s Finnish account. You don’t have to be a linguist to see that there’s no explicit mention of Adu.

Here’s the English starting XI tweet:

Sure, it’s good marketing. It’s a smart business decision. It would be irresponsible if KuPS didn’t try to procure stacks of Euros from Adu’s signing. But when you match up Adu’s stated intention of simply trying to love the game again with COME GET SOME BRAND ADU, it’s hard not to have flashbacks of the old Freddy Adu hype machine .

Watch Adu’s first press conference with KuPS. It’s kind of hilarious. But it’s also a microcosm of Adu’s strange career. Adu’s both the star and somehow exiled to the periphery as he sits patiently while everyone chats earnestly in Finnish. He’s surrounded by brand. He has the look of someone hoping things work out. He looks like he’s trying to have faith that the people speaking are true to their words, even though he can’t understand their words.

(The press conference isn’t short. So because I’m a decent human, I’ve provided the highlights below.)

0:01: Rooster doodle-doo-ing is funny.

0:04: BONZAI, BONZAI. Also hilarious.

1:52: More rooster crowing. Still funny.

1:56: BONZAI, BONZAI. Still hilarious.

2:02: Freddy Adu makes his entrance.

2:15 – 7:18: Adu doesn’t understand anything that’s being said because the press conference is in Finnish, which makes sense because he’s in Finland. Still, it’s slightly uncomfortable.

6:05: Adu’s head slumps either because he’s tired or because he’s thinking “What in the hell am I doing here?”

6:42: Dude talking’s phone goes off. His ring tone sounds like the intro to a horror movie. Hopefully not foreshadowing.

7:19: Adu speaks, says reasonable things.

14:12: Press conference ends.

KuPS’s next game is against Vaasan Palloseura on April 23. Hopefully things work out for all parties involved. And if you need Adu updates, check the KuPS Twitter account.

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