SAN JOSE, Calif.—Plenty of 17-year-old American kids take advanced lessons in their field of study. Tyler Adams is one of the few unable to jot down notes while class is in session.
Adams, a Homegrown defensive midfielder for New York Red Bulls has been studying intently while training with veteran teammates some eight (Felipe), 12 (Dax McCarty) or 13 (Sacha Kljestan) years older than he.
It’s all part of the continuing education of the Wappingers Falls, N.Y. native, who made his MLS debut April 13 in San Jose and will return to Avaya Stadium on Wednesday as part of coach Landon Donovan’s roster in the Chipotle Homegrown Game.
“Every day, they’re doing what they need to do to prepare for the next day, or to get on the field [in matches],” Adams told MLSsoccer.com of the Red Bulls’ midfield cornerstones. “It’s a battle for them. It’s fighting for a spot. It’s a job. But overall, I’m very, very comfortable with them. I find myself picking up habits from them.”
Adams, who picked up the bad habit of sometimes drifting towards the ball as a member of the US Under-17 residency program two years ago, credited Kljestan with privately calling him out on it earlier this year.
“I find myself pulling away now, finding these little gaps and spaces that give me a little edge against the midfielders that I’m playing against,” Adams said. “It’s definitely helped me.”
Nevertheless, it can be hard for Adams, who joined the Red Bulls’ youth setup at age 10. He has made 11 appearances for the Red Bulls’ USL side, against that lone MLS match – in which he was pulled off at halftime. He also lost a couple of weeks due to injury after taking a high-velocity volley to the face during a training session last month at the US U-18 national team training camp in Mexico.
“Sometimes you get caught questioning yourself, finding yourself in more USL games than MLS games, but, at the same time, I have to give myself some time and be patient with things,” Adams said. “Obviously, having guys like Dax McCarty and Felipe and Sacha in front of you, Sacha being an All-Star, it’s hard to find time on the field … I’m just being very patient with things. Being invited to something like this steps my confidence up a little bit, and I can go out on the field and show what I have to prove.”
Rather than exploring a loan, Adams said he’s aiming to be a “full-time MLS player, nothing less than that” in the next couple of years.
“The level is a lot different from MLS to USL,” Adams said. “I want to find myself being in the [Red Bulls’] 18 consistently and eventually becoming a starter. I don’t see a reason why that can’t happen, as long as you keep working hard and stay humble.”