Tyler Adams explains his approach to "tricky" new fullback role with US

CHAMPIONSGATE, Fla. – Tyler Adams admits he’s a true No. 6 midfielder by trade, who trains and plays just like one.

In this week’s US men’s national team training camp ahead of Thursday’s match against Ecuador at Orlando City Stadium, however, the New York Red Bulls Homegrown product has been tasked with a less-familiar role, as a right back.

It’s a position he’s not quite used to, but a role he’s willing to embrace under USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter.

“Luckily enough, I’ve had Skype calls with Gregg to try and go over the tactics, but it’s definitely tricky,” Adams told reporters on Tuesday. “The times I’m in the midfield, the times I’m not wide in training … I’m a midfielder, I’m training as a midfielder. It’s a regular [No.] 6, almost, and you find yourselves where the rotations of those three wide guys are so crucial.”

But for Adams, playing this new role with the US involves a shift in mentality far from his natural position.

It’s part of Berhalter’s game plan, Adams said, that involves heavy preparation in a compressed period before going up against Ecuador on Thursday (8 pm ET | ESPN2, UniMás, UDN), and Chile on Tuesday in Houston.  

“You can have an 8 or a 10 pop out wide, a winger pop out wide to a position, it’s almost like we’re playing three in the back for a lot of the game when we’re in possession of the ball,” said Adams.

“When you’re not in possession of the ball, you have to think more like a fullback, you just can’t leave a winger wide open. But it’s definitely a role I’m trying to embrace and take on.”

Adams knows this new role isn’t going to be easy. When asked what’s going to be key for him to be successful as a right back, the RB Leipzig newcomer said it’s mostly trying to read the game, making right decisions and trying to find ways to create chances when pushing forward.

“Sometimes you have the ball and you’re trying to attract players the right way and you’re facing your own goal when receiving the ball, so finding ways that you can be at the half-turn and play forward and still be dangerous,” he said. “Because at the end of the day, we want to create chances, and I think in the role that I’m playing now, getting the ball and trying to penetrate is key in that position.”

Adams, who joined the Bundesliga side after the 2018 MLS season, said he’s enjoying life in eastern Germany, adding that his former coach back at RBNY, Jesse Marsch – now a Leipzig assistant – has been vital to his transition.

“Jesse is a key for me since going there,” said Adams, “having someone that, when you were 16 years old, decided he wanted to sign you, and that was kind of like a father figure at a club for me. I’ve been able to create good relationships with his family. So now to have a familiar face around every single day, it’s amazing.”


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