Tyler Adams on USMNT's wrong focus during last window and what midfield must get right this time

Before the first World Cup 2022 qualifying in September, Tyler Adams admits he and others on the U.S. national team got a little ahead of themselves.

"I mean, I remember, even myself, I previously said, ‘Let's get nine points in the window.’"

There were two problems with that.

The first was that they needed to focus on one game at a time, each one unique in its own ways, with a different squad put out on the field to face a different opponent.

The second thing was it looked silly when the USA opened with two points in two games against El Salvador and Canada and for a while looked like it might not even get a point in the third game against Honduras.

Adams was speaking from Austin, where the USA is preparing for its first game of the October window against Jamaica. This time, he says the approach is different.

"Let's focus on each game and what we need to do in order to win each game," he added. "And then I think that's going to set us up for the best success.”

Adams has played in the UEFA Champions League with RB Leipzig for the last three years, reaching the semifinals in 2020, but he was one of 16 players to play in World Cup qualifying for the first time, many of them just weeks into their seasons with their European seasons.

"We're a little bit into our season now," he said, "so I think the fitness is there, which also helps.”

'You can tell that the group is focused With the first game of the three-game window moved up to Thursday, most players coming from Europe don't begin arriving in camp until Sunday or Monday, making it a quick turnaround. In his most recent U.S. Soccer podcast to review the September window, U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter said everyone -- players and staff -- were too slow to get focused, and it showed in a 0-0 tie at El Salvador.

"I think that coming into last camp," said Adams, "maybe we were just a little bit naive and we didn't really know what to expect, and that's why we had to use those first three games as a learning process. And now you can already see, it's been one training, but at the end of the day, you can tell that the group is focused."

There is a lot of turnover in the U.S. squad. Part of it is due to injuries with stars Christian Pulisic and Gio Reyna both still out with injuries suffered in the September window.

"Missing players like Gio and Christian obviously affects the team," Adams said. "They're creative players, they're dynamic players, but when you look at the squad and the depth of the squad, we've always had that next-man-up mentality."

'We're going to need everyone this camp' For the previous three games, just five midfielders were called in. This time, teenagers Yunus Musah and Gianluca Busio and Dutch-based midfielder Luca de la Torre have been called in to give the USA eight midfielders.

"Yunus is someone that I'm familiar with," Adams added. "I've had a couple of camps with him now. I grew up with Luca de la Torre and know him and how skillful he is and how hard he's worked for his own path. And to see him striving now and making his own strides in Netherlands is great to see.  I remember playing some preseason games against [Busio] when I was at New York and he was at KC so to see the strides he's made is unbelievable. I'm really excited for him. Hopefully, they all get opportunities. We're going to need everyone this camp."

The USA is going to need better play out of its midfield, which didn't create enough chances in the first window.

"I just need to try and get the ball in areas where I'm able to break lines more effectively and just get the guys in attacking positions the ball more often," said Adams. "We had a tendency for our attacking players to come a little bit deeper and try to find the ball. And to be honest, that's completely normal for attacking players when they don't feel like they can get the ball, then they have to come back and get the ball. If we're just a little bit more efficient and we're able to get them the ball in better positions, I think that that's going to obviously have a big effect on the team."

Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire

18 comments about "Tyler Adams on USMNT's wrong focus during last window and what midfield must get right this time".
  1. Santiago 1314, October 5, 2021 at 6:45 a.m.

    Correct you are Paul, as i Posted "Way Back";

    • "Santiago 1314 replied, September 3, 2021 at 4:58 p.m.

      Maybe I Missed It; But, None of the Other Teams "Rested/Rotated" players for the Next Game... All of us who have Coached In a 3 Game-a-day Tournament KNOW... You got to Play your Best Team and WIN that 1st Game or you are Playing from "Behind the 8 ball" the Rest of the Way.!!!... I Doubt that Ggg has ever had to Coach in that Environment,  and therefore DOESN'T GET IT.!!!... None of these Teams are going to be Player-For-Player the Same Healthwise on Game Day 3... Attrition is going to take its Toll on all these Human Bodies... But like Hugo Said: USA HAS 3 SQUADS...None of the other Nations Do.!!!... Which gets me Back to USSF and Decision to only bring 25(They didn't even replace 26 Weah).... Jamaica has 35 players Ready in Jamaica for these 3 Games.... There is No Roster Limitations due to WuFlu, and you get 5 Subs still... Baffling isn't it.???... Some Intrepid Reporter should inquire... No Vines, Moore, Green, De La Torre, Scally, Carter-Vickers, Palmer-Brown, Miazga, Caden Clark, Hoppe, Gioacchini, Ledezma,  Olosunde, Otasowie, Christian Ramirez,  Richards, Tessman, Busio, ...Probably missed a Few... Bring them ALL if the Rules allow and then you can get a Real Head-To-Head comparison and Have Depth Chart that NoOne can Touch."
      Brooks Out(Bad Back.?? Ha.??Not Buying It)
      And we are Not going to Replace him.!?!?
      We are Repeating the SAME Mistakes.!!!
      Repeating the Same Mistakes and Expecting a Different Result, is the Definition of INSANITY.!!!

  2. humble 1 replied, October 5, 2021 at 10:05 a.m.

    I think it is pretty clear that Greg has two strategies and self-belief that are in effect in his roster decisions, (1) working with club teams on player development (2) working with players and their agents to get caps to enable visas to play abroad and finally (3) he and his staff believe they can get it done doing 1 and 2.  I am pretty sure Greg is working with Ernie Stewart and Brian McBride on the roster decisions.  This should give folks confidence, these three have all been-there-done-that.  Scally is an example.  He is in a good vein of form, with club, why disrupt this?  He is young and lots of runway - what is best for his development in the long run is best for club and country.  A while back I listened to Tony Sanneh talk about the challenges of playing for the US MNT while playing in Germany, he paints a very clear picture of the perspective of the club, and the player.  It is tough, it is not simple, it requires strategic long term thinking.  Carry on Santi!  Love your passion and your commentary! 

  3. beautiful game replied, October 5, 2021 at 10:13 a.m.

    One good point and the rest a winded re-post as usual? 

  4. John Sabala replied, October 5, 2021 at 12:22 p.m.

    There are only so many windows to get players together to really make decisions about roster choices that are fast approaching for the WC.  No one on the roster has actual WC experience so keeping guys at their clubs through these windows is crazy if they can make it.  The only guy from the 2014 WC roster, who also scored, is Julian Green. He is now 27 I think so in his prime years.  What is the logic here?  Yes there more difficulties for the players anywhere in Europe, but they are practicing and playing at levels far above anything MLS has to offer. 

    The pressure of performance expectations are so much higher.  You bring up a great point.  Stewart and McBride should not have influence with roster selections.  These guys are a whole other generation and are too set in their ways of thinking....just look at the head coach selection for the national team for that one.  Despite these two guys playing some time in Germany and the UK the player pool that exists now was still a dream when they played.  Neither of them seemed to think getting a coach with WC experience, or a  coach with experience with top tier teams in Europe was important.  Heck....ask Jill Ellis if she wants the job :)   I bet we will press teams like crazy and be offensive minded with our games.

  5. R2 Dad, October 5, 2021 at 11:03 a.m.

    Let's not forget how close GB was to getting fired after the second game. At the half of the 3rd game, he was out the door, until he decided to loose the hounds and take more risks. Once a defender, always a defender. BTW, it should be made crystal clear to GB that if we don't get out of the group stage he must step down within 12 hours of the 3rd group match. USSF needs to start operating like a real FA around World Cup expectations.

  6. Kevin Leahy, October 5, 2021 at 11:47 a.m.

    Think R2 is right about taking more risks. The game needs to be taken to the opponent from the first minute. Found Adams comment about the forwards having to come back to get the ball telling. Think some of our strikers are starving from service more than, playing poorly.

  7. John Sabala, October 5, 2021 at 12:05 p.m.

      The Proof is in the Words

    Once again GB has shown with his comments in interviews that he does not know what he is doing with the development and playing of the national team.  "Coaches and players were too slow to get focused and this was seen against El Salvador."  Are you freakin kidding me!!  Players follow the lead of the head coach and staff. This is your main job as the head coach!!  Inexcusable!! All of us that have coached any sport know this beyond any doubt.  Getting players buy in to tactics and style is so important along with players knowing and accepting their roles on the team.  As many have stated, we have a completely defensive minded coach, despite having so much offensive talent.  There is such a huge disconnect......GB is so determined getting these players to play HIS system......get that MLS crap out of here. 

    Adams talks about the attacking players having to come back so deep just to get touches.....yeah no kidding.....GB does not know how to break down teams that park the bus....it is beyond his knowledge base.  Adams is stating the facts about trying to break lines, but the offensive players must be placed in the correct areas because the US original game plan calls for this type of approach.  

    As much as Santi and I disagree he is correct in that we need to bring a larger roster in for the pool.  Everyone is on a FIFA window break so playing with the USMNT is better than staying at the club during this time period.  It allows these guys to know each other better.  This is a must to happen for WC success.  If players are injured, leave them to continue to rehab.  There are players not on this roster that should be...Scally, Green, Pefolk and Sargeant are three of the most important because of the positions they play.  Our attacking players will get fouled like crazy in these matches.  We will have injuries.

  8. Bob Ashpole replied, October 5, 2021 at 2:48 p.m.

    I agree John. GB's statement about focus is a confession that he is a failure as a coach. It is long past time when he could claim this is still a learning experience for him. It means that despite his years of coaching experience, he has failed to learn how to lead and motivate a group of professionals.

    GB talks a lot, but speaking is only about 10% of communication.

  9. frank schoon, October 5, 2021 at 3:49 p.m.

    Lets face it, GB should not be the coach. I want a coach who has played in the world cup, was a good player and is OFFENSIVE minded. The coach  has to have world cup experience for that is where we are going. You need a coach who is familiar with WC, the whole atmosphere, the thinking, and problems you face at WC level that a simple second division centerback (GB) has no clue about like what just happened with these 3games. That was a total miscue....

    For example, van Gaal in his first go around as National coach failed. He thought as a club coach training a national team. He trained a lot which his players didn't need, instead he should have trained only to get the concept of play the team should follow not a lot of but training....The players are in shape, they need instruction as to how to play.

    Adams stated that they got ahead of themselves and should have taken each game individually. Yes, NO KIDDING, where was coach on this. The US team is in a unfortunate position of having to take each game individually because they are not good enough to function as a well oiled powerhouse machine, each game is a fight. See, a real good team is not pressed to look at each game, for they have good players, have a style of play, and been following a concept, which means only slight detail could change per game. For a start, for us to follow a concept we need BALL POSSESSION ABILITY, which is a weakspot, without it we have a battle each game. 


    Offensive coaches by nature are defensively savvier than a coach who has defensive backround. They think faster and are always a step ahead, whereas a defensive coach are more reactionary. 
    This is why the best defensive is to be offensive. Positionally, you are a step ahead because when you lose the ball ,it should in the opponents half , far from your own goal and you have the ability to close them down in their half. You also force much of their  opponents to have their backs facing downfield and at same time have numbersa up in their half. Your defense of course has to be fast in order to cover the space behind and the goalie needs to be come out and cover empty space, if needed.  These are just some of the aspects.
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  10. frank schoon, October 5, 2021 at 4:19 p.m.

    Offensive minded coaches think defensively, in other words they are more creative in their thinking about how they play defensive....The best defense is to play offensive. By playing offense you find yourself more in the opponent's team half, meaning any mistakes made are more minimum than in  your own half.

    Here is the MAJOR problem for the US team. Adams stated the front line comes back to want the ball for they aren't being serviced....well, HELLO, this is why Sargent plays out of position ,too far back upfield, almost becoming a midfielder. But the crucial aspect of the front line coming back upfield has to do with spacing ,positioning and speed of ball movement. By the front line coming back, they give away the following:ONE, you give space to opponents ,allowing them to move up and cut our space of movement down and clogging things up around midfield; TWO, CP drops back to midfield for the ball, that means he will no longer be 1v1 downfield but instead he will be 1v2 outnumbered for he not only will deal with opponent's midfielder but also his own man. It is so important for CP and other attackers to stay as far downfield as possible for if have the ball it gives our lots more space to operate in, allowing also to move the ball faster in the build. But by coming back to midfield CP will have his back also facing downfield. Realize this a clusterf*ck because you slow the whole tempo of attack within a smaller playing area as well.

    Adams talks like he's distributor around midfield which he isn't. He needs to realize he's a piano carrier and that is what he does best, Period!!

    ""I just need to try and get the ball in areas where I'm able to break lines more effectively and just get the guys in attacking positions the ball more often,". Adams talks like he's distributor around midfield which he isn't. He needs to realize he's a piano carrier and that is what he does best, Period!!

    Unfortunately our country does not produce savvy passing midfielders who know the ins and out of the game, this is why we send our boys to Europe. This midfield problem was evident when you watch the passes coming to Zlatan,(oh, how I miss him, here) when he played for the Galaxy....

    What I'm saying here is that we'll continue to have midfield problems in the long run and therefore it will produce difficulties on our frontline connection. Unfortunately we don't have a Haaland from Dortmunt up front for that would relieve some of our midfield problems on attack.

  11. John Sabala replied, October 6, 2021 at 5:08 a.m.

    I like that you and I agree on a few things. I am a total believer that your offense can be your best defense as it will keep you playing in the other team's half of the field and makes it very difficult for them to score.  Over time it will be demorlize your opponent and lead to breakdowns in the defense.  Too often we are losing the midfield battle. Partly because of the defensive oriented scheme playing two #6s which is what GB does all the time, even in a 4-3-3.  This also forces our top line players to come deeper to even get passes, let alone service in the box.  Lack of service is why our strikers are not scoring, not their lack of form.
    Now for my disagreement......we have some gifted passing midfielders....even Adams can account for one of those.....he is not a Kante, and are other guys are not DeBruyne, but the talent is there.  They need to coach that will use them this way. Adams has the ability to be more than a piano carrier and is making progress.

  12. frank schoon replied, October 6, 2021 at 9:14 a.m.

    John, 'gifted'??  We don't have or produce gifted passers in this country. It is not in our DNA as is evidenced by not only in how we play and but also how we think here about the game.  Foreign players who come here to play often state in interviews back home in their own country about the lack of savvy ,thinking, the less than well-timed, not accurate enough, wrongly timed passes etc. of American players.  Poor Zlatan, fortunately his great ability was able to correct the lousy passes he receives to score, regardless.  

    Our state of soccer, is still very low and that can be readily seen by the level of soccer commentating, which also reflects the level of play were at. And the level of player development were at does not produce great passers. We produce currently, defensive , hard working types, which also includes goalies. That's where were at. We don't produce great ball handlers , tricky technical players, savvy smart thinking players....we don't have that on the menu and European teams that come over realize that.  This is why we don't see our boys going to play in more technical oriented countries, i.e., Spain, etc.  Our boys basically go to England , Scotland, Germany.....That says enough about where our abilities are more appreciated.  

    Our DNA is so far from the finer aspects that are required to make a good passer. Look at England, once in while  they will come up with a good passer, Lampard, Scholes, Bobby Charlton, Glenn Hoddle  but they likewise produce few and far between good passers due to their style of play. As far as I'm concerned Bobby Charlton was their best

    What I'm getting at is that our game, has really no style, no real concept,  still played with such simplicity, counterattacking, running, fighting, turbo, power, size,etc all of which does not lend itself to good ,quality ,savvy-thinking soccer. And of course this does nothing for improving the quality level of our soccer and therefore allows foreign players, nearing 40, with a brain and skill to still dominate here.

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  13. Bob Ashpole replied, October 6, 2021 at 10:51 a.m.

    Frank, it isn't that the US doesn't produce "savvy passers". The problem is that elite coaches don't want "savvy passers". They want to play kick and run and they are looking for track stars. Their teams are too busy chasing vertical balls to do combination passing to advance up the field in an organized matter.

    It comes down to a preference for a very simple view of the game which doesn't require any insight to teach or coach. What I really hate is the idea that counterattacking soccer is combining a bunker defense with long vertical balls for track stars to chase down. It is like US soccer is stuck on bad rec soccer tactics for 9 year olds. The "give the ball to Mikey" system of play. (Which would be great if the rest of the team combined and supported the attack instead of expecting Mikey to carry the load.)

  14. beautiful game, October 5, 2021 at 4:40 p.m.

    The buck stops with the policy-makers, and that's the head coach.

  15. frank schoon, October 6, 2021 at 9:33 a.m.

      That type of position for a good passer to function requiers to develop many other aspects even before the matter of the ball comes into play. Those aspects the beginnings we don't have. Our soccer dialogue,here, does not cover it. For example, In Holland we talk of a good passer to how he positions himself , for the space in relation to the follow up pass should be made and how he receices the ball. These are aspects before even receiving the ball. Another aspect is what we call 'refinement' which relate to what direction he turns as he receives the ball. Just these aspects there is never any discussion about it. That's why I complain that American Soccer Journalism is on such a low par, that the stories, interviews , we read can just as well reach an audience that reads 'People' or 'Sports Illustrated' magazines....

    Those aspects are much more sophisticated which are not found to be a staple in the American soccer psyche. We are just beginners in this game, just look at how stupid we are about how to approach things running up to the world cup, which has very little to do with the ball. 

    I wish Adams would be traded to Wolfsburg, where the dutch coach van Bommel could teach him some of those insights for he played that position at Bayern, PSV, AC Milan, dutch NT, Barcelona which requires great passing with savviness and ability . He's certainly not going to learn the finer points from a coach like Jesse Marsch. We don't have the expertise, the DNA, the coaches, the trainers, the history to make great passers, the style of play, to create great passers.... 

  16. Bob Ashpole replied, October 6, 2021 at 11:03 a.m.

    Frank, I call that aspect of combination passing "pass and move", a phrase I borrowed from high school basketball. It is really easy to teach using rondos starting with unbalanced keep away games. At least it used to be easy to teach to kids in the 1980s and 1990s.

    This is why I feel the problem lies with coaches, not players. I suspect you agree with the notion that our developed elite players are what their coaches made them.

    The worst aspect is elite coaches who select the most mature players in a year group, and then exploit the early bloomers and dump them when their physical advantages disappear--without teaching them anything useful.

  17. frank schoon replied, October 6, 2021 at 11:22 a.m.

    Bob, your comments dovetail what I said, without getting into more of the technical aspects.

    BTW watch one of my favorite wingers...Dragan Dzajic.

    Skills of Dragan Dzajic - YouTube

  18. frank schoon replied, October 6, 2021 at 11:25 a.m.

    Bob, this is even better

    ,Dragan Džajić, Džaja [Goals & Skills] - YouTube

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