Freddy Adu spent four long seasons dealing with an inability to make his way into a strong Benfica squad, moving around Europe on four consecutive loans. Then MLS came calling, with both Chivas USA and the Philadelphia Union showing major interest in Adu, before the Union ended up signing the 22-year-old.
Adu's last destination was Turkey, where he played for Çaykur Rizespor of the Turkish Football Federation League One (division two in the country).
Umit Kayihan spent that season as Adu’s coach, watching the former teenage soccer prodigy grow from a player that count never justify his $2 million transfer fee from Real Salt Lake to Benfica into one worthy of play in major European leagues.
"[Adu] is very good skilled-full player and he has a good personalty," Kayihan told the Brotherly Game. "[Freddy] is very different now" that he has spent time in Turkey.
11 games with Rizespor brought four goals for Adu, with his first goal making its way into the soccer media mainstream. Adu had finally found a place to thrive and a place to mature.
"It's a little town and there isn't much, but I was there to play soccer," Adu told Yanks Abroad in June. "That was the main focus."
"I think I am a better player today than when I left MLS four years ago. Maturing helps a lot. As the years go on, you get older and start to put things together," said Adu to PhiladelphiaUnion.com last week.
Kayihan agrees that Adu benefited from playing for Rizespor, noting that it wasn't just the American international's game that developed, as the player himself stated.
"He is now mature," said Kayihan, "and a good professional. [Though] he has to work on his defensive soccer. He is weak at that."
The 20-year coaching veteran couldn't help but bring up Rizespor's near miss at promotion to the Turkish Super League when talking about Adu.
Kayihan said, "If I was [still] with team I would keep Adu . He could play in the Turkish Super league."
Nowadays the 57-year-old is out of work, let go from his head coach position at Rizespor, thought to be because of a lack of promotion. With an international diploma earned in England, Kayihan is looking to follow in the footsteps of his former player.
"I want to work in the USA," Kayihan said, with a tinge of unsubtle hopefulness for the future.