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Americans Abroad Breakdown: Tyler Adams’ versatile display vs. Paderborn

“Playing soccer is simple, but playing simple soccer is the hardest thing there is.”

That legendary quote came from Dutch great Johan Cruyff, and it aptly explains one of the reasons why Tyler Adams had such a positive display on Saturday.

Adams and his RB Leipzig side suffered a disappointing result in the latest round of German Bundesliga action, settling for a late 1-1 draw at home vs. last-placed SC Paderborn. The stalemate will probably stand as the biggest surprise of Matchday 30, but one of the major positives Leipzig can take from the game was how well Adams played during the course of the 90 minutes.

Key to it all: He kept things simple.

Adams started the game in the center of the park, deployed as one of two holding midfielders in a 4-2-2-2 look. Unsurprisingly, the 21-year-old American was given slightly more defensive duties than his partner Kevin Kampl. Adams not only occupied deeper positions on a more frequent basis during the first half, but he also occasionally dropped in between the centerbacks to pick up the ball and help circulate it.

The tenacity, fearlessness, and range that Adams is well known for on the defensive side were well on display — the youngster is a downright pest to play against — and that is a reason why Leipzig was able to jump out to a 1-0 lead in the opening stanza.

Just as prevalent, however, was his quick decision-making in possession. Adams moved the ball rapidly, refraining from holding onto it too long in order to avoid overcomplicating things for himself. He even played through lines with a precise forward pass on one instance.

His role was altered just before halftime, though. Centerback Dayotchanculle Upamecano was given a second yellow card in the 43rd minute, leaving Leipzig to see the game out with 10 men and resulting in Adams being dropped to right back.


In that position, the U.S. Men’s National Team regular remained a nuisance for Paderborn attackers to deal with and he occasionally got forward well. He even whipped in a low cross from an advanced position down the flank that was just cleared away before it got to its intended target.

Adams also hit a good long ball forward from his own penalty area that almost iced the game , but the usually lethal Timo Werner somehow failed to score on an open net.

While Adams had an overall solid performance, his versatile outing on Saturday was not perfect. Yes, both the game and Leipzig were affected by Upamecano’s sending off, but Adams still had moments even before then in which he could have played better.

Mainly, Adams needed to find a way to diversify his passing. Keeping it simple is a tremendous quality to have and an overlooked and underrated facet of his game, but there are times when you need to mix it up a little more, when you need a little less predictability.

The match against Paderborn — which, to reiterate, is the cellar dweller in the Bundesliga — was one of those times.

Adams not only had the most touches (81) of any player on the field on Saturday, but he also connected on only 43 of his 58 passes (74.1 percent). His impact in the attacking part of the game still leaves something to be desired, and is something he needs to work on so that he can influence that aspect of a match at a level more closely resembling his defensive contributions.

Sure, Adams is not going to be tasked with regularly creating from deep. That is not the player he is, after all. Still, knowing how and when exactly to connect on a wider range of passes — like the one he hit in the first half in between the lines — is a good weapon to have in one’s arsenal. It can help unsettle a defense and at times provide the difference.

The good news, of course, is that Adams is still young and has plenty of time to incorporate that element to his game. If he can, he will become that much more of a well-rounded player and one opposing teams will have to be wary of at all times.

It might be a big step, but it is the next one Adams has to take in his development. After all, he already seems to have the crucial “playing simple” part down pat.


  1. @Mal……..i feel sorry for you, that you need to whip your small dick out and piss all over some argument that no one else is making. This article is about Tyler Adam’s recent performance. Clearly the USWNT have gotten under your thin skin somehow.

  2. And I’m talking balls. I’m not taking about a bunch of entitled complaining women that signed a contract and then really wanted to reneg on it. I’m talking about guys that take care of business. No excuses. Beneficiaries and victims of transoaraveny. At a level that has nothing to do with women, and never will, in the soccer realm. This is a man’s world. Love my women, but, merit, unfortunately

    • You just commented a second ago praising someone for leaving politics out of their post. This article has nothing to do with the USWNT, no need to hate on them plus don’t forget they’ve won four World Cups.

  3. Ok Panizo, well done. You separated politics from soccer, did tour job. Amazing that we have to salute you for this, but in today’s day and age..

    You know, you write about things he did on the pitch. Not what he did off it or if maybe say he was too inactive on Twitter, and should therefor be condemned. Be a pro. Continue. Do your job. So far, so good with this one

    • What are you rambling on about? Seems to me you are guilty of what you’re accusing the writer of this article of. You don’t see the hypocrisy in that?

  4. I’ve said it before, but it’s worth saying again….Right now Adams (and others) are miles ahead of our previous generations of USMNT players. Our young midfielders are playing for clubs in some of the best leagues….and playing for teams towards the top of their league tables. Tyler still needs to improve his game….but there is still time for him to pick up additional skills and refine the ones he has.
    Look at previous “Star” players for the USMNT Midfield:
    J. Jones – At 20 yrs old was just breaking into Frankfurt’s 1st team. Wasn’t until the 2007/08 season when he joined Schalke that he reached the top of his game….he was 26.
    M. Bradley – At 20 yrs old was playing for Heerenveen. At 22 was with Mönchengladbach…but it wasn’t unit he was 24 and playing for Chievo or 25 and playing for Roma that he was at his best.
    C. Reyna – is probably the closest comparison to Adams as he was a major contributor at 21 to Wolfsburg. Reyna’s time with Wolfsburg & Rangers were probably his best years. Injuries held him back by the time he was purchased by Man City…and at the time Man City was not a serious contender…but a mid-table club.
    Donovan – While 18 when he signed with Leverkusen…he never was a contributor and most of his time on their books he was loaned to MLS.
    DMB – Was 22 when he signed with PSV, and hit his stride at 25 with them. Enough to be loaned to Man City…and later sold to Rangers (Back when SPL/Rangers were still considered a good landing spot).

    Currently Adams (20) is a significant contributor to R.B. Leipzig (3rd in the table). McKennie (21) is a significant contributor for Schalke who’s 10th in the table. Pulisic (21) is a contributor to Chealsea who’s 4th in the EPL Table. G. Reyna (17) is a contributor for BvB who’s 2nd in the table.
    Our players are playing at a higher level than ever before and are doing it at an age that indicates that they are not finished products. If these guys can stay healthy and continue to refine their game we are looking at a very, very capable midfield for years to come.

    • With health from Weah and first team minutes for Ledesma (best case scenarios, when does that ever happen for us). You could have a front line of Weah in Europa League, Pulisic and Reyna on the wing in Champions League, Ledezma in Europa, Adams in CL and McKennie rounding out midfield. Dest in CL with whatever club he ends with Brooks on edge of Europa, Long (maybe in Premier League) and Cannon (likely Bundesliga) with Steffan (either on a top league loan or playing CL and FA Cup matches). That’s a lot of hope and ifs but none of it far out there.
      Sargent or Altidore at CF with Weah, Reyna, and Pulisic could be interesting all three of those attackers could switch in and out of each of those three spots being very difficult to track. Throw in Dest coming forward and McKennie or Adams arriving late and that would be downright scary for the opposition.

      • Although it’s early, I think LLanez could be an important add to our attacking corps. In addition to those you mention we have a lot of other youngsters who could break through in the future, also. Players like Palmer Brown at CB, the guy at Aston Villa, Otasowie at Wolves and Richards at Bayern. If Horvath can get on a club where he can get some playing time, I think he could be a good option at GK if Steffen doesn’t recover from his injury problems.And I’m probably forgetting some players.

    • lost in space is typically a moron, as in unequivocally a moron, but the moron makes a couple of valid points. I personally don’t require his rehashing of players that we all know and my guess is it’s actually detrimental to anyone dumb enough to sit and read it, as lost in space is some sort of lunatic, but yes, this is a special generation. The reason why? They have balls. Mckennie, adams, pulisic, they’re not backing down. Problem? They’re too young to be counted on a regular basis. Reyna? Best thing that has or will ever happen to Pulisic. Mckennie? We realize now how unique he is. Adams as well.

      • May go over some guys heads but as I’m off social media now, won’t be able to educate. Just come here to drop kernels of knowledge that you guys so sorely need

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