Tyler Adams or Christian Pulisic? If you had to take one as the future captain of the US men's national team, who are you picking?
The question was the subject of debate in an ESPN FC segment with Herculez Gomez, Sebastian Salazar and Alejandro Moreno in which they made their case for which up-and-coming star should be next to take the reins. The topic was sparked by Adams himself, who told Gomez in an interview that his personal goal is to assume the captaincy somewhere down the road.
Adams would be young for the role at just 21 years old, but Gomez said Adams' combination of pedigree playing for RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga and the leadership qualities he's already displayed make him an ideal candidate.
"I love that Tyler Adams is saying, 'I want that responsibility,'" Gomez said of the former New York Red Bulls standout. "He's been groomed by great leaders, he understands the responsibility, he understands the role, he cherishes the challenge of taking that responsibility. Why not give it to him? You look what he's done, you look where is, you look where he's going, I think he's made for it."
Moreno took a different tack, saying that Adams' first obstacle would be taking the role from Michael Bradley, which could be easier said than done.
"You don't take a backseat. If you're Michael Bradley and you've accomplished what you've accomplished with the national team, you don't just sort of gracefully slide to the side and allow somebody else to take your position," Moreno said. "There is a certain competitiveness that goes along with being part of the national team, especially for as long as he has and having the role he has had for the national team."
Bradley, who has worn the armband in 48 of his 141 caps would seem to be the obvious choice among players currently in the pool. However, with Bradley turning 33 in the summer and currently on the mend from an ankle injury suffered in MLS Cup 2019, it's only natural to think about what the future might hold. Head coach Gregg Berhalter hasn't tipped his hand, rotating the captaincy among a number of young players, including Pulisic and Weston McKennie, since taking charge in December 2018. Moreno, for his part, took a different tack than Gomez on the debate.
"How about giving this responsibility to your flag-bearer — to the guy who is the reference point for this national team. That guy is not Michael Bradley, it's not Jozy Altidore, it's not Tyler Adams, it's not Josh Sargent, it's not Weston McKennie — who's your best player? That's Christian Pulisic. You're Christian Pulisic, at some point you have to be the guy. You're gonna be the guy regardless of whether you want to or not, because that is the level of expectation you have on your shoulders given the fact that you play where you play. So, you are the reference point, then put that armband on be a leader. At some point you have to be able to assume the responsibility that comes with being the guy."
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