Tyler Adams had to wait 20 months to savor the feeling of representing the U.S. Men’s National Team once again, but the defensive midfielder shined in his first appearance since March 2019.
Adams got the start for Gregg Berhalter’s side in a 0-0 draw with Wales at the Liberty Stadium on Thursday and made the most of his 71 minutes on the pitch. After a combination of injuries and the COVID-19 pandemic halted his development with the National Team, the 21-year-old returned to the field Thursday and impressed from his natural position.
“What a feeling to be back obviously, there’s no bigger honor for me than representing my country,” Adams said. “It’s a great feeling to get back out there and start to gel with some of the younger players. We’re starting to build our chemistry and continue to move forward. We would’ve loved to get a win, but with two days of training and some guys learning new tactics it’s a lot. It’s something to improve on so we can take some positives from it and continue to progress.”
Sitting just in front of the USMNT backline, Adams directed a lot of traffic in his return and helped the team dominate possession against Wales. He connected with Weston McKennie and debutant Yunus Musah in the USMNT midfield, controlling the tempo against Wales’ playmaking midfielders.
Having played as a right back/defensive midfield hybrid in his lone previous appearance under USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter, Adams returned to his natural defensive midfield position against Wales. He made two successful tackles, while also making seven recoveries, and completing 86% of his passes on the night. Overall, it was a strong return for Adams, who missed out on 16 possible matches since his last appearance due to injuries.
“I feel good because thats my natural position,” Adams said. “Being out there and being able to kind of command everything that was going on in front of me, tell players where to move and when to press higher upfield is important. It allows me to lead a team in a better way. I was confident of the guys in front of me so it makes my job a little bit easier.”
“I think Tyler played well, I thought he worked really hard in the defensive role,” USMNT goalkeeper Zack Steffen said. “I think he found some good spots when we had the ball. We’re still trying to get to know one another and figure out how we want to play but I think he was very energized tonight. He wanted the ball and when he was on the ball I think he did a good job. I think Wales did a good job to limit our chances, but for the first time playing together in a long time, I thought Tyler controlled the midfield pretty well.”
Adams has now made 11 appearances for the USMNT in total since debuting in November 2017. After being one of the young players knocking on the door of the senior team, Adams is now working with several players younger than him including Musah, Giovanni Reyna, and Konrad De La Fuente, all of whom made their debuts in Swansea on Thursday.
With a lot of fresh faces coming into the fold for the USMNT, Adams will now look to pass on what he knows to the current group.
“It’s definitely an exciting future for us with the amount of young talent we have available to us,” Adams said. “You can say this person may be good at this part of their game, but is also good at this and that. We have guys that have so many different qualities and that is important for us as a team. I think you’re really going to see us gel together and these matches help with that.”