BASEL, Switzerland - Freddy Adu has been mainly a spectator with Benfica since arriving in Europe.
The 18-year-old American transferred to the Portuguese club last summer from Real Salt Lake and has played just 64 minutes over 2 1/2 months, appearing twice as a substitute. Now he's training with the United States national team ahead of tonight's exhibition game at Switzerland.
"Freddy is a great talent," said US midfielder DaMarcus Beasley, who had similar problems getting playing time during stretches when he was with PSV Eindhoven. "He just needs to keep his head straight and not get too down on himself, and when he gets his chances to take them."
Adu moved to Benfica July 31 for a $1.5 million transfer fee. He made his debut Aug. 14, entering in the 37th minute of a Champions League qualifier against Copenhagen. Then coach Fernando Santos was fired Aug. 20, two days after Benfica played a 1-1 tie in its Portuguese league opener.
Since former Spain coach Jose Antonio Camacho took over, Adu's only appearance was in the final 11 minutes of a league match against Sporting Lisbon Sept. 30.
"It's normal that a young player needs time to move along in a team like Benfica, and it's the same way in the national team," US coach Bob Bradley said yesterday. "He must show everyone that he is learning, that he is picking up little things every day."
Adu has played just once for the US national team, entering as an 81st-minute substitute in an exhibition against Canada Jan. 22, 2006. At 16, he was the youngest player in the history of the national team.
Adu made his Major League Soccer debut with D.C. United as a 14-year-old, one of the youngest American athletes to perform professionally. He has struggled but also shown flashes of talent - he scored three goals for the US team 6-1 rout of Poland at last summer's FIFA Under-20 World Cup.
Adu declined to speak with reporters yesterday.
After starting 10-0-1 under Bradley, the United States has lost five straight games, its longest losing streak in 13 years.