Commentary

U.S. U-20 star Tyler Adams has been playing up for a long time

By Mike Woitalla

When Tyler Adams showed up for Red Bulls Academy U-13 tryouts, the coaches were quite sure he was ready to play above his age. But they eased him into the older age group.

“We knew he was pretty special,” says Red Bulls youth director Bob Montgomery. “We figured out quickly he didn’t belong with these kids. But because you’re dealing with a young player, you want to make sure emotionally he’s OK. We asked his parents to think about Tyler playing up, because it will be better for him.”

They were concerned about how Adams would feel about leaving the age group of his friends.


Tyler Adams

“We asked him,” Montgomery said. “'Will you go practice with the 14s? They need an extra player. They’re short a guy. And he’s like, ‘Me go play with them?’ with big wide eyes. We told him, ‘You know some of the guys.’

“He went up, and obviously there was no problem. He wasn’t a big kid, but he had that athleticism. The spring in his legs, the ability to move, quick at thought, and he was a team guy. A very competitive guy. At 12 and 13, some of them are more like kids, but he was very, very focused.

“When he went up to the older team. He was still one of the better players.”

Playing with and against older players has since been the norm for Adams, who started out as a defender and now plays in central midfield.

Two years ago, Adams was the youngest field player on the USA’s U-17 World Cup squad. Born in 1999, he’s the second youngest field player after 2000-born Josh Sargent on the USA’s U-20 team that reached the quarterfinals of the 2017 U-20 World Cup with a 6-0 win over New Zealand on Friday.

USA cruises with record-tying win  By Paul Kennedy
U-20 World Cup: Results & Schedule

Adams has started all four games and has played all but five minutes of the USA’s undefeated run in South Korea.


U-20 World Cup: USA 6 New Zealand 0 Highlights

In 2015, after attending the U.S. U-17 Residency Program in Bradenton, Florida, Adams became the first signing for the Red Bulls II. Before the U-17 World Cup, he scored for Red Bulls’ first team in a 4-2 friendly win over Chelsea in July 2015. He played 11 USL games with Red Bulls II in 2015 and 21 in 2016, including in its 5-1 championship final win over Swope Park Rangers. He made his MLS debut in April 2016.

This season, although he was often gone for U-20 national team duty, he has started seven MLS games for the Red Bulls, whose organization he first joined at age 10, with the Regional Development School program in Poughkeepsie, New York.

“He has stepped into a team to play a central midfield role with the New York Red Bulls,” U.S. U-20 coach Tab Ramos said. “He has done a tremendous job, just physically being able to play for a team that pressures high, that covers ground, that likes to have the ball, that likes to counter quickly.

“Tyler’s physical ability to cover ground and mental strength are really amazing for a young player. I don’t want to put players behind him, but he is one of a kind.”

Adams, like Sargent, is young enough to be eligible for another U-20 World Cup. When Adams, now 5-foot-9, showed up at the Red Bulls, he played central defender.

“We felt we should also give him exposure to outside back, and we played him left and right, and we also put him as a No. 6, a holding midfielder,” said Montgomery. “And when we had him up with the 16s, playing up a couple years, in the [Development Academy] playoffs, he was playing left back and people were saying he was the best kid on the field.”

While with the Richie Williams-coached U-17s, Adams moved from outside back into midfield, where he’s shining now, aiming to help the USA reach the semifinals of the U-20 World Cup for the first time since 1989.

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U-20 World Cup Quarterfinal Schedule


Sunday, June 4
USA-Venezuela (2 a.m, FS2, NBC Universo; Pacific Time: 11 p.m., Saturday, June 3)
Portugal-Uruguay (5 a.m., FS1, NBC Universo)

Monday, June 5
Italy-Zambia (4 a.m., FS1, Telemundo En Vivo)
Mexico-England (7 a.m., FS1, Telemundo)

5 comments about "U.S. U-20 star Tyler Adams has been playing up for a long time".
  1. R2 Dad, June 2, 2017 at 5:37 a.m.

    For kids like Tyler, they benefit from playing with more experienced teammates. But being smaller and younger, it only takes one match with a referee who "lets them play" for everything to go sideways. The thing I've noticed about Pulisic/Dortmund is how and when they play him. Pulisic has not started in matches against physical, kickball teams in the Bundesliga and if he plays, it's usually as a sub to minimize his exposure as he grows and adapts. The coach above mentions all of Tyler's attributes which help him perform as a youth--I hope Tyler is asking his coaches what they are doing to protect him and his precocious talents. After watching Zalalem get hacked down in the opening U20 world cup match, it's obvious these dmid and centerback positions suffer more wear and tear. That might sound like an obvious observation, but how many coaches are prepared to develop AND protect their players at the expense of team performance? I haven't seen many.

  2. Quarterback TD, June 2, 2017 at 10 a.m.

    I have seen this kid play and he has been stagnant for the last 15 months.. Red Bulls needs to loan him to Europe so he can complete his development at a big level club. What's was done in the past is gone time to progress and playing U20 is not a good measuring stick

  3. Nick Daverese, June 2, 2017 at 3:54 p.m.

    Is this the same Bob Montgomery who coached Adelphi in Long Island. Then tried to take Long Island United into the under 19 A division into the Cosmopolitan Junior soccer league. You know why he did it. He stole the best players from the Long Island Junior soccer league. Of course that league would not put that team in the Long Island Junior soccer league after stealing their best players. Of course our league Cosmopolitan Junior Soccer league was stupid enough to let them play in our league. The good news was they did not win our A division. I think Sc Gjoa won it.

  4. Quarterback TD replied, June 2, 2017 at 5:12 p.m.

    Nick, all these coaches at DA are scumbags so it will not surprise me. They are YouTube instructed and never made it in the the soccer profession

  5. Nick Daverese, June 2, 2017 at 10:44 p.m.

    They also put in another team under 19 in the B division. A former Cosmos player managed them. They won that division big deal they won in the B division. If I remember right they charged their players three thousand a player to play for them.

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