Not for the first time in his rocky nine-year professional career, Freddy Adu sat at the front of a room full of reporters and cameras and said all of the right things.
The latest was Friday in Brazil, at his introductory news conference with Bahia, yet another new club for him. It is the ninth team in a six-country world tour for the 23-year-old onetime wunderkind, taking him from MLS to Portugal, Monaco, Greece, Turkey and back to MLS.
Along the way, Adu accumulated 17 senior caps with the U.S. national team -- more caps than four players who started for the United States last month in Mexico -- but none since his standout performance in the 2011 Gold Cup final.
That match almost two years ago remains Adu's finest game. On a disappointing evening for the Americans -- the 4-2 loss to Mexico at the Rose Bowl led to the firing of Bob Bradley as coach a month later -- Adu, a surprise starter on the right wing, was easily the most dangerous U.S. player on the field, his shifty moves and quick combination play tormenting El Tri left back Carlos Salcido every time he touched the ball inside the visitors' final third.
For a vocal minority of national team fans, the memories of Adu's play that night have them convinced that he still has something to offer the U.S. on the world stage.
Are they wrong?