Midfielder | New York Red Bulls | USA
Christian Pulisic is the only wonderkid born across the Atlantic worth shouting about, right? IBWM readers could be forgiven for blindly adopting that dogma, but we’re here to challenge your widely accepted belief; this is where Tyler Adams steps in. The 19-year-old central midfielder has taken the MLS by storm since he broke into the senior squad, consistently mesmerising fans of New York Red Bulls with his intensity levels and flair. Stylistically, Adams falls somewhere on the spectrum occupied by box-to-box midfielders, though his starting position is typically in defensive midfield.
When Adams discovers his mojo it’s customary to watch him pinch the ball on the edge of his own area before striding forward with tantalising footwork, bypassing midfielders with ominous ease and seeking to thread passes into forward runners.
The US media have latched on to Adams’ rapid progress in the MLS and hailed him as America’s next huge soccer talent to rise to the top. The consequence: interest from Europe and a successful bid to lure him away from the US in the shape of RB Leipzig.
Now we will get to see how Adams compares with Pulisic next year when the pair are competing on the same platform in the Bundesliga.
2018 has been…
A massive year of development for both club and country. Adams received his first ever cap for the USA at the end of 2017 and he has since moved on to collect a further eight caps, including a 28 minute cameo against England at Wembley in November.
Domestically, Adams started 26 of New York Red Bulls’ 35 MLS fixtures, providing three assists on their way to clinching the MLS’ Supporters’ Shield following a dramatic final day in which they usurped Atlanta United into top spot.
That Adams was at the heart of his side’s midfield for the majority of the campaign is certainly no coincidence, and it was only a matter of time before a European side offered him an opportunity which aspiring American teenagers dream of.
With the season wrapped up and Adams’ transfer to RB Leipzig set to officially go through on January 1st 2019, this year should be regarded as a watershed moment in his professional career.
The Bundesliga awaits. The MLS, perhaps a little harshly, is regarded as something of a graveyard for top players, who are comfortably past their sell by date and hoping to wind down their careers with one last lucrative payday, while the rest of the division is made up by players who would stand little, if any chance of making it in Europe.
Adams won’t change perceptions overnight regarding the standard of American football, but his development will provide an indication into the enormity of the gulf in class between the MLS and Europe’s top footballing divisions.
Murmurs that Adams could represent Leipzig’s long-term replacement for Naby Keita are unnecessarily premature, even if there are parallels to be drawn between their respective playing styles.
Everything is pointing in one, vertically facing direction for Adams, but a 2019 review could be written in a starkly contrasting tone if he struggles to deal with the intensity of top-flight German football.