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Is Freddy Adu ready for Gold Cup final?

Freddy Adu of the United States attempts to

Freddy Adu of the United States attempts to control the ball as he his defended by Gabriel Gomez of Panama in the second half at Reliant Stadium in Houston. (June 22, 2011) Photo Credit: Getty Images

What shall we make of Freddy Adu's 25 minutes of fame?

Fact: His ball to Landon Donovan, who set up the lone goal against Panama Wednesday night, was a thing of beauty.

Fact: There are several players on the team that could've played that ball.

Fact: He displayed an up-tempo style and created multiple scoring opportunities in limited minutes.

Fact: Not many players can claim they did that.

Adu was singled out mostly for that memorable pass to Donovan, which set up the only goal of the match and propelled the United States into its fourth straight Gold Cup final. If this were hockey, he'd get an assist for that.

But what he did after that impressed the most. He showed the flash and offensive will that many Americans have lacked but will need to beat Mexico on Saturday. Adu's 25 minutes of excellence on the field and his work ethic off of it didn't go unnoticed.

"You could see him getting sharper," Bradley said after the game. "You can see confidence coming back. We had him on the bench the other day with the thought that he could come in at a certain point to help and the timing for it tonight worked. He was a nice part of the play that lead to the goal and it’s important for him. He’s earned this opportunity and I think everybody in the team feels good about that.”

In the ceremonial morning-after media player ratings, Adu scored a 7 or an 8 on most people's charts, including SI.com's Steve Davis, Fox Soccer's Ives Galarcep, the Washington Post's Steven Goff and the Times' John Godfrey. ESPN's Jeff Carlisle wasn't as impressed, giving Adu a 6 -- but most of his ratings were a notch lower than the others.

Adu's performance doesn't mean Bradley should insert him into the starting eleven come Saturday. But, based on the way Mexico's been playing -- outscoring opponents 18-2 in five games -- he'll likely be needed in the second half. Juan Agudelo will be approaching his usual limit of 70 minutes and the U.S. will need a lift off the bench.

Cue Adu, who could get another chance to prove that at 22, he's very much part of America's future -- not just a blast from the past.

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