Tyler Adams seizes the challenge of an unfamiliar attacking role for US

CARSON, Calif. – Tyler Adams knows where he can do the most damage on a soccer field, and right behind the forwards, in something akin to a playmaker's role, isn't the place.

That's where the 18-year-old phenom was for most of the US national team's 0-0 draw Sunday evening with Bosnia and Herzegovina at StubHub Center, as interim US coach Dave Sarachan opted for a 4-1-4-1 alignment that featured a midfield group of No. 6s and No. 8s.

Adams fared fairly well given the impediments, as did holding midfielder Wil Trapp and his attacking partner Cristian Roldan. And the experience of playing out of position offered some lessons he'll carry with him into the New York Red Bulls' preseason camp, and the next time he's called in to play for his country.

“I think everyone knows that my best spot is either box-to-box or deep-lying, as you saw me at the end of the game [after Trapp exited],” Adams told MLSsoccer.com afterward. “But with the players that we have here, and Wil being more of a 6, I think that [the position somewhat fit] the qualities I do have. I can press up the field to break up some plays, which I did, and we created some chances out there. That final pass in the final third was just a little bit off today.

“But everyone knows I'm not a 10. That's not my best position. Everyone knows that.”

The US struggled to create chances against an inexperienced but organized Bosnian side until Kelyn Rowe came on at halftime and added some needed energy to the US attack. But Sarachan was happy with what he saw from Adams, Trapp and Roldan.

Adams vs. BIH. | German Alegria/LA Galaxy

“In terms of the defensive structure of the group, it was solid,” Sarachan said in his postgame news conference. “With those three, they had the freedom to release and join in with CJ [Sapong, the starting striker] early, whether it was Cristian or Tyler. I don't consider them pure-passing No. 10s, but at the same time, with their runs out of midfield, I thought we were dangerous, actually.

“I wasn't so much the creative passing that we expected, but it was the dangerous third-man running that guys like Tyler can make out of midfield. I thought he did a good job with that, and I thought there were moments where if we picked him out a little bit earlier, we could have been even a little more dangerous.”

Adams, who made his international debut in November's 1-1 draw at Portugal, thought the experience was worthwhile, if sometimes frustrating.

“[The lineup meant] we can rotate whichever way we want, but the bad thing about it is sometimes I get stuck being in the final third,” he said. “That's a part of my game I want to improve on, making that final play and stuff like that, but I'm better making final plays from a deep-lying [position] than closer to the 18[-yard box], than having to be quicker around the goal.”

He's been pegged as a crucial player for the Yanks' future, and he believes he can live up to expectations.

“[With] the new generation of players, I think that I can play a big role [with the US] going forward,” he said. “I like to play with guys like Kellyn Acosta, who's not here, and Weston McKinnie, who just got injured, unfortunately, but I'm sure we'll be seeing more of him in the future. Guys like that. Guys I have good chemistry with, and going forward, I think I'll be able to play a big role.”