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Adu, 15, is spotted drinking beer at Maryland keg parties.

Freddy Adu
D.C. United's Freddy Adu (center) with Adrienne Morris (left) and Raquel Lugo, freshmen he met at a University of Maryland party.
-- Diamondback photo --
By Gary Davidson
SoccerTimes

(Tuesday, September 21, 2004) -- Apparently Sierra Mist is not all Freddy Adu is drinking these days.

The 15-year-old American soccer sensation, who has million-dollar sponsorship deals with Pepsico, the maker of Sierra Mist, Campbell's Soups and Nike, not to mention a six-year $3 million contract to play for Major League Soccer's D.C. United, was spotted earlier this month drinking beer at several University of Maryland keg parties, according to the lead story today in the Diamondback, the school's student daily newspaper.

"He was drinking beer just like everyone else was," said freshman Richard Crabbe in the Diamondback story. "They had a keg and he had a red cup. He was pretty buzzed. . . He was having fun like anyone would at a college party."

With the MLS publicity blitz following his signing, Adu finds himself treated as a celebrity almost everywhere he goes and apparently that was also the case when he ventured to College Park on September 11. He had been spotted on campus on other occasions over the the summer, the Diamondback said.

And when one of the three parties he reportedly visited September 11 was visited by police, students came to Adu's aid to keep him from getting caught and being issued a citation for underage drinking.

"The cops came and we were like, 'Get Freddy Adu out of here,' and we hopped the fence with him," freshman Rob Fitzgerald told the Diamondback.

In the state of Maryland, a civil citation can be issued for persons under the age of 21 found drinking any form of alcohol. The maximum penalty is a $500 fine and\or 30 days in jail. With the state's drinking age at 21, a large number of the university's undergraduates and campus residents cannot drink legally.

Student Dan Fitzpatrick told the Diamondback that Adu appeared to be stumbling when he left a party held by the Maryland women's lacrosse team. "I'm 100 percent sure he was drinking," Fitzpatrick said. "He was holding onto someone while he was walking in the street."

While a 15-year-old drinking beer is not necessarily an unusual thing, when a teenager considered by some to be the savior of American soccer is doing it, it causes considerable angst among the adults positioned to maximize revenue from his image.

A Major League Soccer spokesperson said, "No comment," referring SoccerTimes to D.C. United. MLS senior director of communications Trey Fitz-Gerald, however, told the Diamondback, "Freddy always handles himself as a fine, upstanding young man, so we aren't overly concerned with any impropriety."

Sports Net LLC, the agency which represents Adu, also said, "No comment."

"We're disappointed that the Diamondback chose to publish a story based solely on speculation and assumptions and give little credence to the few details reported in the story," Doug Hicks, D.C. United vice president for communications, said in an e-mail to SoccerTimes. "Regardless, we've spoken with Freddy about the importance of whom he associates with, where he spends his free time and to realize that he may often find himself in situations where those around him are not interested in what is best for him. In addition to his exceptional soccer ability, Freddy remains an affable, yet humble young man who was raised very well by his mother. We trust that this experience will serve as a valuable learning experience for Freddy as he continues to grow and mature."

Diamondback editor-in-chief Jonathan Cribbs said his newspaper's story was thoroughly reported. "I definitely stand behind our story," he said. "We made every attempt to get in touch with Mr. Adu, but the team (United) didn't seem to want us to talk to him. The facts in the story were confirmed by lots of people. . . I think our reporting on the story was solid. It was certainly a story that was widely read."

Gary Davidson is SoccerTimes managing editor. E-mail Gary Davidson.

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