Tyler Adams defends Miguel Almiron in ATL
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Best XI snub or no snub, no questioning Tyler Adams importance vs. Atlanta

HANOVER, N.J. — For every player selected for MLS Best XI in 2018, there’s an argument for another XI to make the All-Snub team.

Tyler Adams might wear the captain’s armband of that squad.

But not earning that prestigious honor doesn’t lessen his impact for club and country, according to New York Red Bulls captain Luis Robles.

“I think there’s a few guys on this team that you can say, they need to be on MLS Best XI, yet all of that is out of your control,” Robles said after training Tuesday. “I know that Tyler’s had an incredible year and he makes us better, he makes the US national team better. When we go into this matchup, it’s a guy like Tyler that we’re going to count on to have a big performance to lift this team.”

Red Bulls coach Chris Armas said any postseason award is largely subjective, making the case for Robles to have won Allstate MLS Goalkeeper of the Year (which went to Zack Steffen of Columbus Crew SC).

“There’s a bunch of our guys who had amazing seasons. I think the results showed that,” Armas said. “Does Tyler deserve an award over Miguel Almiron? For me that’s tough, you’re splitting hairs there. I don’t think it’s a snub.”

Almiron, who was on the MLS Best XI, is also a finalist for Landon Donovan MLS MVP and earned Robles’ vote for that honor.

Robles also knows the Eastern Conference Championship against Atlanta United, which begins Sunday (5 pm ET | ESPN, TSN2, TVAS, ESPN Deportes) will largely hinge on who has more of an influence in the midfield — Almiron or Adams.

“When you look at the way that we’ve played in the past, we’ve put Tyler on usually their most dangerous midfield piece. This is why Tyler’s been so great, because he’s found a way to at least minimize their impact on the game,” Robles said. “If you’re sitting there on the other side, you know Tyler Adams is going to be a big factor and they’re going to have to find ways to find Miguel and get him the ball and yet Tyler’s always going to be buzzing around him and I think we’re hoping at least that will put added pressure and a little more anxiety on Almiron’s game.”

Armas, though, said the Red Bulls tactics won’t be quite that simple. Yes, Adams will be important, but the role of quieting Almiron, as it was with Federico Higuain of Crew SC, will likely be a shared responsibility with defensive midfield partner Sean Davis and others.

“Tyler’s just important in every way,” Armas said. “There will be lots of the game where Tyler’s around Almiron, lots of the game where he’s not and he can influence the game in many other ways. Tyler’s just important to have on the field. Like last series with Higuain, it’s not a one-man job, it’s not a two-man job.

Our whole team has to understand where Almiron is operating, where is he showing up, how can he hurt you, how can you mitigate what he can do. The presence of Tyler on the field is, in itself, massive and we’ll need him.”

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