When New York City FC crosses the Hudson to visit Red Bull Arena (1:30 pm ET; FOX, FOX Deportes in US | MLS LIVE in Canada), two promising teenagers - NYCFC’s Yangel Herrera (19) and the New York Red Bulls’ Tyler Adams (18)--will likely be squaring off in the center of the park.
Both youngsters have been turning heads -- Herrera’s star turn in South Korea has many speculating on where the Manchester City loanee will end up next season, while Red Bulls assistant coach Chris Armas tacitly acknowledged that big teams could come calling for Adams in the future.
The similarities don’t end there.
Both players have replaced respected veterans in the lineup -- Herrera has started in front of Andrea Pirlo, while Adams’ potential was reportedly one of the reasons the Red Bulls felt comfortable parting ways with Dax McCarty.
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Additionally, both players have been complimented by coaches for the astute way they read game situations, a key part of playing in central midfield.
But what do Adams and Herrera offer their respective teams? We turn to the Audi Player Index to see what that numbers have to say.
Herrera earned his first start of the year on April 29, stepping in for Pirlo. Playing alongside Alex Ring and Maxi Moralez, the young Venezuelan helped control the midfield en route to a 3-2 New York City victory.
His Audi Player Index score from that match -- 791 -- trailed only teammate Jack Harrison (1132, including two goals). Herrera also showed he could get it done on the offensive end, earning an assist and notching his first goal of the season on a brave header in the penalty area.
Adams, on the other hand, has been a steady contributor in his eight starts this season. If you ignore poor games against Orlando City and Philadelphia, he’s averaging 349 Audi Index points per match, which compares favorably to the league average for midfielders of 233.
Adams also holds the edge on Herrera in most of the defensive and passing categories, besting his counterpart in tackles, interceptions, passes completed in the opponent's half as well as in the final third.
In addition, Matt Doyle has praised the Red Bulls teenager for his ability to hit third-line passes in the vein of his former mentor McCarty.
Based on those comparisons, it seems clear that Adams is more of a "classic" defensive midfielder - one who wins the ball back and connects with teammates. Herrera, on the other hand, presses the issue more on offense, taking on defenders and getting into goal-dangerous positions.
Adams vs. Herrera is just one of several intriguing matchups in display during Saturday’s match. However, if either player is able to turn in a dominant effort, it could be the matchup that claims the city of New York.