Adams was with GermanyX RB Leipzig within a year, and Leeds sent Gaby Ruiz, their European recruiting head, to see him in the flesh. Leeds couldn’t actually sign him because they were just a second division club at the time and Leipzig invested a lot in Adams but so often in football, this first look at a player plants a seed.
Adams was an interesting player with budding technical development and personality. He was young, just a few weeks under 21, but he didn’t see it with the naked eye. Self-confidence, arrogance, maturity; whatever it it was, the midfielder had it, and Ruiz presented his thoughts with interest.
The club reviewed their files on Adams last summer when speculative interest turned into a concerted effort to sign him from Leipzig. Another report, written by another intelligence officer, Alberto Cordero, actually gave the green light for the deal:
“Dynamic in all his movements…very fast player in tight spaces…excellent for continuous pressure in different areas…constantly creates continuity in his passes…capable of delivering the ball into attacking zones with great accuracy and speed…simple and correct…generates effort…”
Cordero’s assessment continued in the same vein before he concluded that Adams was made specifically for compatriot Jesse Marsh’s Elland Road midfield, the opposite of shrinking violet.
At that stage in the transfer market, it was a draw for Leeds, who had already paid another German club, Bayern Munich, £10m ($12.1m) for another midfielder. Mark Roca. They could have Adams or Mohamed Kamara, the hardy Malian who played for Red Bull Salzburg.
There was little difference in their prices, but Leeds, The March and director of football Victor Horta sided with Adams. They believed that he and Roca would be a more stable couple. And with Adams, they also acquired strong leadership qualities – a surrogate captain. (Instead, Camara went to Monaco from the French Ligue 1.)
These qualities received a vote of confidence last week when Adams was named USMNT captain for the World Championship.
He’s worn the armband on the international stage before, but this was something else: the 23-year-old was asked to lead the US through a tournament in which expectations were higher than ever. Previously, the Americans rotated the captain’s armband among the members of the “leading council”, and, characteristically, the decision to award it to Adams on a permanent basis did not come from the head coach. Gregg Berhalter. Instead, it came from the team – they held a vote, and Adams was the winner.
“Tyler is a guy who has just matured beyond his years,” Berhalter said when the selection was made public.
This call, according to one of the former players of the US team Athleticwas “absolutely a no brainer” andAlmost every conversation about Adams—with current teammates, old teammates, former and current coaches—provides the same confirmation.
He was the guy who broke the convention that football players know their place until they get settled, settled down and old enough to respond or make an impact. Whenever stories about his spell in the New York Red Bulls MLS they say they invariably return to an incident in which an attempt to remind him of his lack of seniority ended in a physical altercation that Adams won.
The “no problem” remark came from Sasha Klestan, who played alongside Adams in New York.
Klestan, without overdoing his foresight, had foreseen this some time ago.
“Given that (the captaincy) was left up to the players, I’m not surprised he went his own way,” he says. “I have known him since he was about 16 years old and I realized very early on that he was a natural leader. It shines in who he is and how he plays, this ultra-confident guy who shocks you a little, but then quickly wins your respect.
“I was 20 years old when I turned pro and I was one of those players who always obeyed the older guys. Is always. This is what most players do. Tyler wasn’t like that. He went through 15, 16 and from day one, he was confident, never the type to keep his mouth shut if he had something to say. He speaks well, plays well and that makes him the perfect captain.”
Adams’ trick, and his way to respect the rest of the dressing room, was to back up his speech in the only way the young player is capable of.
He wanted to show that he was putting in the best effort, and although the US missed a 1-0 lead against Wales on Monday, Berhalter received from his captain the archetypal Adams game, a mix of tackles, interventions and recoveries. He won the most tackles (five) and duels (eight) of any team and finished third on regaining possession of the ball.
Leeds more and more watching this industry in the premier leagueaided by stamina that allows Adams to manipulate the space between both boxes and manipulate the ball there. His total distance covered against Wales, over 13 km, was the furthest at that point in a World Cup.
However, he is capable of possession and more than an offensive midfielder.
On and off the field, those close to him see two sides to him. Adams is fiercely competitive when the chips are down, but people in Leeds describe him as “sweet and easy-going” in everyday life.
They are Brendan Aaronsonother USA world Cup member of the Leeds Book Squad, live close to each other in smart yorkshire city harrogate and play golf together when matches and practices permit. Adams, according to Aaronson, is the more experienced golfer of the two, and their competitive streak is such that both have hired instructors to improve their strokes.
“I’ve played enough with Tyler to see that he’s a completely different person on the field,” says Aaronson. “Sometimes we yell at each other, we get into it a little, but after that we are really good friends.
“On the field, he is just like… he shows his playing face and gives it his all. Something that is really underestimated about Tyler is that not only does he win a ton of tackles and he’s all over the place, but he’s been incredible with the ball this year (in Leeds), changing his attack point, connecting little 10s or 15s. -yard passes in the middle. He was fantastic, one of our best players.”
Leeds, like the US team, has leadership group of senior players who work closely with the coaching staff and offer a deck.
It was created by Marsh, American head coachwhen he was appointed in February this year.
Interestingly, Adams is not yet part of this group, but is a member of the council created Berhalter along with others including Christian Pulisic and Walker Zimmerman. The US camp is rather cautious about the council in detail, but it is essentially the voice of the squad, meant to keep people in the loop and maintain good channels of communication with Berhalter.
Adams, who turns 24 in February, is the youngest national captain in the tournament and Leeds’ first World Cup player since. Lucas Radebe with South Africa in 2002.. He has never been far from the USMNT picture since Berhalter took over the company in 2018. “I could go on and on about Tyler’s strengths,” says Berhalter, “but I think another trait of him is his humility.
My game with my words. Tyler Adams
“He is a guy whose teammates know exactly what they will get from him. They know that he will come on the field and compete, they know that he will think about the game, they know that he will delve into the details of the game. He is not only a competitor, but also a strategist. It helps the band because he puts people at ease and people support him.”
Klestan, a veteran of more than 50 USMNT appearances who is based in Qatar as a host and analyst on the Fox Sports show FIFA World Cup Now, admits he had to adjust to Adams’ outspoken nature.
“When it broke through as a child, I definitely needed time to get used to it,” says Klestan. “Who he was was not at all what you would expect from a man of his age. There was nothing malicious in what he did or said. He just wasn’t afraid of anyone.
“He talked when he felt like talking, and he was completely honest, so at first part of you was like, ‘I don’t know what to do with this guy.’ But then he plays the way he plays, he’s 100 percent for the team and you forget everything except the fact that he’s exactly what you need around you.”
A few months ago, Mike Grella, another former New York Red Bulls player, told the story of how Adams got into a fight and beat up an older teammate who went too far. Klestan also remembers this incident, although, like Grella, he prefers not to name the one who was beaten.
“It was someone who played in the same position as him, someone who had been in the game for a lot longer,” says Klestan. “From time to time he grabbed Tyler by the headlock, teased him a little – it was mostly entertainment, but maybe it was a way to show who is in charge here.
“One day we walked out of a team meeting and this guy, he was poking at Tyler like he used to. I don’t know, maybe Tyler has had enough. They got into a fight and a fight, all of a sudden serious, and, well, Tyler got this guy tapping out. After that, he no longer contacted Tyler.
“That’s a good way to sum up Tyler. He doesn’t take shit from anyone.”
England will find out in the biggest test of Adams’ leadership to date.
Gareth Southgate’s side are very interested in winning the match and are among the favorites to win the World Cup itself.
For the US, a point or three might depend on a player who takes on the English midfield like a wasp, completely in his element.
It took a dressing room vote to give him the captaincy of the national team, but everyone who knows Adams thinks it was his destiny.
Every World Cup question you were afraid to ask
(Photo: Getty Images; Design: Sam Richardson)