PROSPECT | Tyler Adams – the versatile American youngster helping RB Leipzig towards Bundesliga success

With 130 senior appearances to his name, American midfielder Tyler Adams is now starting to increase his influence on a RB Leipzig side looking towards future Bundesliga glory. Featuring in four matches since the resumption of Germany’s top-flight following the COVID-19 pandemic, Adams displays a maturity beyond his age and is extremely versatile in his play. Moving to Germany for a cut-price fee of €2.6 million from New York Red Bulls in 2019, Adams could prove to be one of Leipzig’s best players over the next few seasons if he can continue his recent good form.

Hailing from Wappinger Falls, New York State, Tyler Adams joined Red Bulls Academy in 2011 at the age of 11 and featured in the U13, U14 and U16 sides at the club before turning professional in March 2015. His professional debut would come just one month later for the New York Red Bulls senior reserve team helping his side to their first win in club history. From that point, Adams put together a string of top-class performances in the following season culminating in his side’s 2016 USL Cup final victory against Swope Park Rangers. Still only 17, Adams was making a big impression at the club. The young midfielder soon went on to score on his first-team debut in a friendly match against Premier League side Chelsea in July 2015, slotting home a header in the 69th minute past Asmir Begovic. By November that same year, Adams had signed his first senior contract.

Known especially for his work ethic and humbleness, Adams often speaks about his upbringing in NY state. Besides from football, the young American enjoyed a childhood that regularly also featured basketball and baseball. His love and passion for sport from an early age has pushed him in his quest for fame in the sporting world. But Adams attributes his success down to his family and those around him. In his own words: “my journey to becoming a professional was actually made possible by the people surrounding me.”

On the pitch, Adams excelled in his first full season with the New York Red Bulls in 2017. With NYRB favourite and MLS all-star Dax McCarty leaving for Chicago Fire prior to the 2017 season, Adams was seen as the ideal long-term replacement. Many thought that his impact wouldn’t be instant in the first-team but within a few months, the young midfielder was already making a name for himself. Playing close to 2,000 minutes of football that term, where he scored twice and had three assists, Adams was already proving his weight in gold for a NYRB side chasing MLS glory. His versatility was of paramount importance, featuring in central-midfield nine times, at right-back seven times and on either side of midfield in the remaining six matches. Best summed up by his former NYRB teammate Luis Robles: “no matter what the situation is, you don’t ever get the sense that he’s overwhelmed by the challenge.” On the back of his breakthrough, Adams would make his USMNT debut in November 2017 but his second season with the Red Bulls would be even better.

Featuring in 38 matches across all competitions, Adams became a mainstay in a Red Bulls side who were pushing for both MLS and CONCACAF Champions League glory. With most of his appearances coming in central-midfield, the young American was starting to make the position his own. And by the time he opened the scoring for New York in a 3-1 victory over Club Tijuana in the CONCACAF Champions League, helping the club advance to semi-finals of the Champions League for the first time, the big European clubs had already begun to scout the player in-depth. Describing himself as “fearless” and someone who “tries to be the engine of the team”, Bundesliga side RB Leipzig came calling and in January 2019 Adams was swapping Newark for Eastern Germany.

Moving for a reported fee of only $3million with a 33% share in any future sale going to NYRB, it’s safe to say that RB Leipzig got a bargain when they made a move for Adams in 2019.

Former Leipzig manager Ralf Rangnick was big fan of Adams the first time he saw him play and eluded to Leipzig’s extensive scouting of the USMNT star prior to his move to Germany. “We have been closely following the development of Tyler Adams for a long time. He was an absolute top performer at the New York Red Bulls this season at just 19-years-old and has also been a US international since November 2017. We are convinced that Tyler is able to immediately strengthen us in the central-midfield. We are very happy that he is joining us and we are sure that he will take the next step in his development in the Bundesliga.”

To date, Adams had only made 22 appearances in all competitions for Leipzig and has suffered with extensive injuries during his time in Germany. As former head coach Rangnick did elude to, Adams did begin his Bundesliga career with some strong performances and immediately made the midfield stronger in Leipzig. His Leipzig career began with a bench appearance against Borussia Dortmund in January 2019 however the midfielder did not feature in that match. His first-team inclusion instead came a week later in a 4-0 win away at Fortuna Düsseldorf, Adams playing the whole match alongside Diego Demme in midfield on his debut for Die Roten Bullen. From there, the central-midfielder would play in Leipzig’s next eight matches, a run in which the German side would go unbeaten as they pushed for a Champions League position. Adams himself would record two assists in that run.

His season on this occasion was cut short though with adductor problems seeing the young American only feature a further twice that season, missing the first 16 matchdays of the 2019/20 campaign as well as a direct result. Since then Adams has once again shone for RB Leipzig. Playing ten times in the Bundesliga and Champions League this season, the box-to-box midfielder has featured in four matches since the Bundesliga’s resumption in May and although he has no goals or assists, his versatility has again highlighted just how crucial he is for the Saxony based team. So far in May against Freiburg, Mainz, Hertha Berlin and FC Köln, Adams has played at central-midfield, right-back and right-midfield. Remarkably, the American international has only lost three games at Leipzig in 22 appearances.

His play is perfect for a Leipzig side that love to attack. In his own words he loves to “do a lot of things on the field other guys don’t want to do.” In other words, Adams loves to break up the play and has the ferocity to get stuck into challenges when needed. The kid from the Big Apple loves to be on the ball, is very comfortable in possession when needed and has an eye for the perfect pass through to the forward players. His performance at home against Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League certainly highlighted those traits mentioned above when he was introduced in the 56th minute, replacing the stricken Nordi Mukiele.

His performances have been that strong for Leipzig since his arrival that in March of this year, Adams signed a new five-year-deal with the club which will see him stay at Red Bull Arena until the summer of 2025 at the earliest. With the continuation of his hard work and dedication, coupled with the management of Julian Nagelsmann, by then Tyler Adams could quite possibly be one of the best central-midfielders plying his trade in Europe.

Nathan Evans.

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