The Indy Eleven are having a tremendous inaugural season in the North American Soccer League. Well, that's if you don't count their performance on the pitch. Standings-wise, the Eleven are all alone in last place in the NASL, with no wins to their name after their first nine matches.
But by all other standards, including fan base, apparel sales, buzz, attendance, and monetary gain, Indy stands high above the rest of the league.
For those that don't remember Adu, he was America's greatest hope when it came to soccer. As a young 14-year-old, Adu was heralded as the next "Pele" and was thrust into the mainstream media well before he had a chance to prove his acclaim on the field.
After brief stints at some of the highest levels of play in Europe and America, ones in which he failed to ever live up to the ridiculously high expectations set for him, Adu and his talent never panned out the way we, or he, thought it would. Now, after an unsuccessful last-chance tryout with Blackpool, a team currently in England's second highest league, the Football League Championship, Adu sits at home in Maryland, waiting on a call from any team to try him out.
But that call is never going to come from any MLS team, and probably not by any major team in Europe as well. He has had his chances, and the reality of it is that he is just not good enough to compete in the major leagues right now.
But he would make a great fit in Indianapolis.
A perfect fit, in fact.
Even for professional sports, where 30-years-old is the beginning of the end for most athletes, Adu is still relatively young at 25. Meaning, there's still hope for his prospected talents to blossom, especially if he was playing on a team in a league that would give him the time he never received from any other "what have you done for me now?" leagues.
And here, in Indianapolis, stands a team with no expectations from fans to win any championships, or even any games, for that matter. A team young enough in its history that the fan base will allow it to go through their bumps, fails, and growing pains without abandoning it.
In essence, the Eleven are the professional soccer team's version of Freddy Adu. Here, in Indianapolis of all places, both the Eleven and Adu could be allowed the benefit to learn from experience, take their time in their professional development, and grow into something special.
For Adu, if a call did ever come from the Eleven, the decision to take the tryout should be a no-brainer. If his shot at the tryout calls from the big teams based on his "young phenom" status are over, and by all accounts they are, then Indianapolis is his best shot a reestablishing his name in the mainstream market.
From the perspective of the Eleven, a team that is shattering NASL attendance records, and is watching its popularity grow by the day, the addition of Adu would be a major step in the right direction for a number of reasons.
For instance, there's the possibility that in a few years, and with a few wins, the Eleven could be the biggest name in the NASL, and perhaps even move into the ranks of the MLS some time in the future.
And for Adu, this is the biggest and best chance he could get.
In addition, the acquisition of Adu by the Eleven would be a chance to propel the team into the national spotlight, and increase their constantly growing fan base.
As well as an increase in popularity, Adu's talents, although not good enough for the likes of the MLS or the Premiere League in England, would still put him in the highest tier of players in the NASL. And while he has never lived up to the expectations placed before him, a player with his set of skills and given the time to develop, has a ceiling much higher than that of the Eleven's current biggest draw, Erick Norales, who is at the tail end of his career.
So, for both the Eleven and Adu, forming a growing relationship seems like a smart idea.
Yet, even though Adu and the Eleven seem like a match made in soccer heaven, the likelihood of this transaction ever happening seems unlikely. Adu, even for his lack of success in the major leagues, would still probably draw too high of a salary for the young Eleven to compensate him, and the Eleven are probably in the market for much younger, cheaper options.
But, still, it doesn't hurt to dream.