Adams USMNT dribble

Leeds United defensive midfielder Tyler Adams, undoubtedly, will be among the US men’s national team’s most important players at the FIFA 2022 World Cup.

The good news, according to his club coach Jesse Marsch, is the 23-year-old is playing “the best that I've seen him ever in his career – and I've known him for a long time.”

How long, exactly? Back to Adams’ days as a New York Red Bulls homegrown player, when that chapter started during the 2016 season and Marsch was leading the MLS side.

“For me, we haven't played against any opponent that's had a better defensive midfielder than how Tyler's been playing,” Marsch said in an Extratime: 1v1 interview with Andrew Wiebe. “So I think his upside continues to be massive.”

Leeds have one game before the World Cup break, visiting Tottenham on Saturday while sitting 12th in the English Premier League table. It’s Adams’ first year at the club, reuniting with his old manager this past summer after a reported $24 million transfer from German Bundesliga side RB Leipzig.

Adams, who originally went to Europe in 2019, is one of the USMNT’s key leaders even when not wearing the captain’s armband. His ball-winning, high-pressing ability – that’s been on full display in a Leeds shirt – will be crucial in Group B games against Wales (Nov. 21), England (Nov. 25) and Iran (Nov. 29) as the Yanks make their World Cup return.

Marsch, similarly, expects a high impact from Leeds’ other USMNT midfielder: Brenden Aaronson, a Philadelphia Union homegrown export who went to Europe in 2021.

“He gets better every day,” Marsch said of the 22-year-old. “He's like a weed. You almost see him grow before your eyes. It's really amazing. He's a special young man.”

Aaronson joined Leeds this summer on a reported club-record $30 million transfer fee from Red Bull Salzburg. That reconnected Aaronson with Marsch from their days in the Austrian Bundesliga, setting the stage for a key World Cup role.

“It's so much just about his ability to make final plays and slow himself down a little bit in the last third,” said the American coach. “He has more quality than people think. He's a good finisher, he's really clever with how to put passes together in tight spaces.”

Collectively, Marsch attributed their EPL adaptation to “an Americanism” and tactical understanding from past time spent together. Adams and Aaronson are foundational pieces that are ready to shine in Qatar.

“Those two, it's not just being American,” Marsch said. “They're very unique personalities in that they are relentless in their self-belief. They are fearless.”

For more from Marsch, check out his entire Extratime: 1v1 interview here.

Jesse Marsch on USMNT World Cup expectations and managing the pressure of the Premier League