BARCELONA, Spain (AP) – The Philadelphia Union haven't experienced much success since leading scorer Carlos Ruiz's recent abrupt departure.
The club is counting on former prodigy Freddy Adu to pick up the pace.
After agreeing to terms with the Union, Adu is expected to be available for Saturday night's meeting with visiting FC Dallas, which looks to bounce back from a disappointing loss in this matchup of second-place teams.
Philadelphia went 8-4-7 before Ruiz, who led the team with six goals, was first held out July 29 against Colorado. The Union later announced their star forward had been transferred to Tiburones Rojos de Veracruz of Mexico's Liga de Ascenso last Friday.
Philadelphia played to a 1-all draw with Houston after taking a lead into the 84th minute last Saturday, dropping to 0-1-2 in three games without Ruiz. The Union (8-5-9), who have scored once in each of those contests, sit one point behind Columbus in the Eastern Conference.
"We can't drop points. We need all the points we can get," defender Sheanon Williams told MLS' official website. "It's a tight race."
Adu, whose MLS debut came as a 14-year-old in 2004 with D.C. under current Union coach Peter Nowak, hopes to provide the offensive spark that Philadelphia's been lacking of late. He was picked up on a free transfer from Sports Lisboa e Benfica of the Portuguese First Division.
"I'm extremely happy to be here," Adu said. "Just to have the opportunity to play here ... just excited to be part of the team. This is a great team, doing well this year. The goal obviously for me is the team goal, which is to win games and hopefully make it all the way."
Following four seasons in MLS, Adu spent several years posting lackluster numbers overseas. He found himself back in the national spotlight, though, after joining the United States national team for the CONCACAF Gold Cup in June.
While he's unlikely to start Saturday, Adu hopes to have an impact on the match.
"I hope I get a chance to play," the two-time MLS All-Star said. "This is a big game. I've got to be ready."
FC Dallas (12-6-6) suffered a setback in its quest for the top spot in the West with a 3-1 road loss to conference-leading Los Angeles last Saturday, snapping its four-game unbeaten streak.
Brek Shea, tied for fourth in the league with nine goals, was limited to one shot - the first time he'd been held to less than two in 13 matches. Shea, however, enters this contest on a high note following an impressive performance with the U.S. during Wednesday's 1-all draw with Mexico.
The 21-year-old rising star entered in the 60th minute and had an assist.
"In our league, if he's not the best then he's one of the best at just getting the ball, going at people and putting them under pressure," Galaxy midfielder Landon Donovan said. "As a defender, it's a nightmare to defend against him."
Shea also came up big during a 2-0 victory over Philadelphia on May 14, scoring a goal as Dallas improved to 2-0-1 all-time in the series.