COUNTRY: United States
CLUB: New York Red Bulls
YEARS PRO: 3
2017 has been the season where Tyler Adams has fully emerged on the national stage. The central midfielder, still just 18 years old, became Dax McCarty's replacement as the lynchpin of the New York Red Bulls midfield when the veteran was traded away in the offseason. Coming off a 2016 season in which he helped lead the Red Bulls' USL team to the league Shield and USL Cup titles, Adams' assured play has turned heads in American soccer.
Deployed for the most part as a central midfielder so far in his professional career, Adams primarily operates as a defense-first player, although he has gradually become more involved as a supporting player in the Red Bulls attack while playing on the right wing. But beyond his considerable skill, Adams has drawn raves for his maturity well beyond his years and ability to get stuck in against all comers.
What the technical staffers say:
“When you talk about an engine in the modern player and the ability for a central midfielder to cover ground and know what it means to really close the ball down and take those extra steps, he’s as aggressive as that as I’ve seen for a young kid. … The biggest thing that jumps out is how much ground he covers in a game, in the course of the 90 minutes. He has a real engine. … He’s in a good environment, kind of on the perfect team — a team that likes to run and pressure the ball. He really sits their style. A young kid they could build around or he potentially has the talent to play in a bigger league, even in Europe. He has this fearlessness about him.
“He represented us at the U-20 World Cup and I thought he was one of the better players in the whole competition. … He’s a kid that will only get better. The biggest thing he seems to bring is he has a good head on his shoulders. He plays the game with a smile on his face but he’s got some real bite and a little nastiness to him, which you like out of that position.
“I think his passing can always improve. That’s something that will come with age. His feet will only naturally continue to get better. Some minor criticism would be improving the range of passing that he has.”
“When watching him, the first thing I said was, ‘Listen, if I’m a European team, I’m buying this guy immediately.’ He’s brave, he’s a fighter, he’s very athletic, he’s good on the ball. You can tell he can be an attacking outside back. He reminds me a lot of [DeAndre] Yedlin. Very aggressive, doesn’t shy down, doesn’t back down from a challenge or a situation.
“I think he’s the next best up-and-coming right back that we have. That’s gonna lead to him moving up the rung with his club, with his national team and who knows. I would guess, similar to Yedlin, people are gonna start to notice him. … There’s nothing he shows that leads me to believe he won’t go somewhere big.
“I think he’s versatile more than people think. But to me he looks like a modern wingback, able to play in a lot of different systems, which is really what you want. You don’t worry about him going forward, you don’t worry about him defending, you don’t worry about him technically. And his mentality — every time I watch him, it seems like he’s getting in fights, which I like. He’s 18 years old and he just seems up for it.”