The health status of Tyler Adams was one of the big question marks heading into Monday’s announcement of the U.S. Men’s National Team roster for the Concacaf Nations League finals, but the inclusion of the RB Leipzig midfielder on the roster hasn’t settled whether or not he will actually be available when the Americans take on Honduras on June 3.
It shouldn’t have come as any surprise that Berhalter would include Adams and give him at least another week to recover from the back injury that sidelined him at the end of the Bundesliga season. He remains the unquestioned top choice in the defensive midfield role in Berhalter’s midfield, though injuries have limited his
“We felt that he’s that important to the team that we want to put him on the roster,” Berhalter said of Adams. “We know we can always replace him if he’s injured. We have enough players in camp to do so. So it was it was a risk worth taking for us.”
Adams missed RB Leipzig’s final five matches of the season, including the DFB Pokal final loss to Borussia Dortmund. It was a disappointing conclusion to what had been a productive and impressive season for Adams, who set a new personal record for most matches played in a season with 37 in all competitions, 10 more than the previous season. He played almost twice as many league matches and league minutes this season than last season, but his late-season injury left his availability for Nations League in question.
“He was touch and go at Leipzig,” Berhalter said. “They held them out of the cup final. He still had a little bit of pain that he was getting treatment for, after the cup final. (He) was preparing for the final day of the weekend and still was struggling a little bit, so he went home to get treated.”
Berhalter’s decision to include both Kellyn Acosta and Jackson Yueill on his roster provides cover in the defensive midfield role if Adams can’t go. Berhalter had high praise for both, including Acosta, who showed well during the March friendlies.
“I think Kellyn did a great job against Jamaica in the friendly,” Berhalter said. “This was a guy that was playing in preseason and came and played 90 minutes against Jamaican and did a really good job. He was a player that we were unsure of how he would perform there, but he took to the role. He understood the role and he executed it really well.”
Yueill missed the March friendlies due to his role as captain of the Olympic qualifying team, where he was one of the team’s few bright spots in a campaign that ultimately ended in failure. The San Jose Earthquakes midfielder has long been admired by Berhalter because of his ability to be the sort of deep-lying distributor Berhalter covets from the defensive midfield role.
“Jackson’s a guy that we’ve grown with,” Berhalter said. “We’ve seen him make his debut against Jamaica in D.C. (in 2019) and then since then, he’s just kept improving, he’s just kept getting better.
“Jackson, in my opinion, is a guy that needs to be tested,” Berhalter said. “And games like Switzerland, Nations League semifinals, hopefully finals, these are games that will test him and that’s exactly what he needs, and then we’ll be able to really determine the difference between those two.”
Berhalter’s comments suggest Yueill will be the one to get the call to start in Nations League if Adams is unavailable, but the Switzerland game will go a long way towards clarifying that battle.
Berhalter will be hoping he won’t have to make that decision, which he can put off if Adams is able to recover from injury in time to face Honduras on June 3.