By Clemente Lisi – NEW YORK, NY (Mar 12, 2018) US Soccer Players – Tyler Adams is turning into an MLS star at just age 19. After his first full season in Major League Soccer, Adams already looks like a veteran player on a New York Red Bulls roster dominated by youth. The pressure for Adams to succeed is tremendous. He’s resolute on helping the Red Bulls win an MLS Cup and become a regular member of a USMNT. His Twitter profile says it all: “The future is being written.”
What this season, or even the next few years, will have in store for Adams’ career is anyone’s guess. After playing in one MLS regular-season match in 2016, 2017 turned into a breakout year. Adams started in 22 of the 24 games he appeared in, scoring twice with four assists. The teenage midfielder has continued to impress coach Jesse Marsch. His skills when it comes to moving the ball upfield, setting up teammates with a great pass, and ability to regain possession with a hard tackle resembles that of a player who’s been in the league for years.
Adams spent January in the USMNT’s annual camp. It’s players like Adams that give USMNT fans optimism for the future. Whether he’s playing for the Red Bulls or the United States, Adams has displayed a feistiness rarely seen among even the most-talented Homegrown Players in recent years. Last season, his job was to fill the void left in midfield after Dax McCarty’s trade to Chicago. This season, the midfield is without Sacha Klejstan, traded to Orlando City SC during the offseason, and Felipe, who moved to the Vancouver Whitecaps. Adams will need to step up once again.
With the U-2 World Cup and two appearances with the senior USMNT squad, Adams is building his resume for club and country. He helped Red Bulls II win the USL title in 2016, and that’s after he had debuted for the first team in July 2015 with a goal in a friendly the Red Bulls won 4-2 against Chelsea. He recently played the full 90 in the US’s friendly versus Serbia that ended scoreless in January.
“He’s certainly a special player and a special person, and we’ve seen so much growth from him,” Marsch said last October.
The Red Bulls are currently in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League, holding a 2-0 first-leg lead over Club Tijuana of Mexico. New York opened their MLS season this past Saturday at home with a 4-0 rout of the Portland Timbers, a game in which Adams entered as a second-half sub. We caught up with Adams to discuss where the Red Bulls stand this season, how far can the team go and what he expects of himself over the course of the next year.
The season has only just begun. What are the Red Bulls capable of in 2018?
We have a lot of young and up-and-coming guys, and it’s really refreshing to see. They can help push the veterans to be the very best that they can be. The veterans, meanwhile, share what they have learned their entire careers with the younger guys. I think as the season goes on, a lot of young guys are going to make their marks on the season.
You talk about a mix of youth and experience. What can this blend do for this team?
I think our style of play, the high energy, the high tempo – you need young guys on the field to do those things. You need them to do the pressing and shoulder a lot of the workload that is required. The veterans are here to teach us. The young guys have an eagerness to learn, and it’s going to be important for our team this year.
Some of the veterans on this team includes players like Bradley Wright-Phillips. How does he help you to become a better player?
Just being able to watch how he conducts himself on and off the field is truly humbling. This guy played for Manchester City at one point and Southampton. He never wants to take a day off and is always learning to be better. I am learning from that. The experiences he’s had, it’s truly humbling for me. He’s one of those veterans working very hard each day. He’s always trying to find ways to get better.
It’s only March, but where is your form right now?
I think the National Team camp helped push my fitness and sharpness. I think my fitness is at a point where I didn’t lose much during the offseason. The training that we did have, we had good fitness and good touches on the ball. I think I’m able to come into this season as fit as possible. Obviously, I want to be able to make more plays. That’s something the coaching staff and myself are looking it, studying video each day and looking at new ways to get better.
You mentioned this team’s style of play. How do your skills help you fit into this Red Bull lineup?
I think I have been able to adapt. I think the player that I am, that I fit the style of play. It has been fairly easy for me. I do have to learn to slow down in front of the goal and get more assists.
Some are already calling you a veteran. What do you need to do to help this team finally win a championship?
I guess you can say I’m a veteran since I’ve been around for a little bit now. I have had the ability to learn from a lot of true veterans within this league. For myself, playing more of a leadership role and showing some of the younger players – even younger than me – is more important to me than anything. I think the energy in the locker room is very good.
It’s true that the dressing room looks very upbeat and the coaching staff very optimistic early on this season. Why do you think that is?
We have a young squad on the field that really wants to go after it. I’m not saying we didn’t have that in the past. We have had lots of good players, but now the energy and the vibe is truly amazing.
Clemente Lisi is a regular contributor to US Soccer Players. He is also the author of A History of the World Cup: 1930-2014. Find him on Twitter:http://twitter.com/ClementeLisi.
More from Clemente Lisi:
- Preview: MLS in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals
- Bob Bradley knows how to turn an MLS expansion team into a champion
- Paraguay's new MLS influence
- Soccer History: Brookhattan
(Photo by Howard C Smith - mexsport.net/ISIPhoto)