World Cup Emerging Players: USA Captain Tyler Adams

captain tyler adams

Tyler Adams is officially Captain America. The 24-year-old holding midfielder has put himself on the map in 2022. He’s the engine in the midfield of Leeds United in the Premier League. Now he’s in Qatar with the United States showing the world what USMNT fans have known for years: He’s a remarkable young athlete and human being.

World Cup Emerging Players: USA Captain Tyler Adams

The New York native joined the New York Red Bulls academy in 2012. He’s repeated the story in interviews dozens of times about his mom driving him 75-miles to training at the academy. It was an inspirational upbringing in many ways. He burst onto the scene with the first team in MLS in 2016. The young midfielder proved a perfect fit for the Red Bulls’ pressing style. He grew in confidence on the ball, was physical, and develop his tactical understanding under Jesse Marsch, who now manages him at Leeds. Adams was a regular starter on the 2018 team that won the Supporters’ Shield.

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He moved to RB Leipzig in January 2019, staying within the Red Bull super club family. He was reunited with Marsch. Adams struggled with injuries to start and had to work to get into the lineup of a team with growing aspirations and competition. In August 2020, Adams had a moment of fame scoring the winner in a 2-1 victory over Atlético Madrid in a UEFA Champions League Quarterfinal. It was Leipzig’s first time ever in the semifinals. Adams moved to Leeds this past summer, reportedly for a reported $24 million, signing a five year contract. 

In 13 games at Leeds, Adams has brought the tenacity and quality to the midfield. He’s been one of the better players. His style of play and personality, very much American and Red Bull, has fit in with Leeds and again with Marsch. Should Leeds get relegated, he will have no problem finding a club in one of the top five leagues that will amplify his talents. 

At the national team level, Adams was a mainstay for Gregg Berhalter during World Cup Qualification. He was the most reliable, fit, and consistent player in the MMA midfield alongside Weston McKennie and Yunus Musah. In the three game international windows, Adams was the only non-center back non-goalkeeper to regularly start all three games. Almost in the background of Christian Pulisic, he became the leader of this team. While Pulisic has had the moniker of Captain America in recent years, Captain Tyler Adams has proven himself on and off the field in Qatar.

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He was arguably the best player on the field in the Wales game, despite Gareth Bale officially being named MOTM. He’s run 24 miles across the three group stage games. He and McKennie wrestled control of the midfield against England. He was composed against Iran and a leader in midfield as the team saw out a defensive second half to win and advance to the knockouts. Through his performances and leadership, no question Berhalter has been vindicated in giving him the armband for this World Cup.

On top of that, Adams had a viral moment in a heated press conference prior to the Iran game. U.S. Soccer social removed the Emblem of Iran from several social media posts prior to the game. this was to show support of the Mahsa Amini protests for women’s rights in the country. The day-before press conference with Adams and Berhalter went off the rails as journalists from Iran state media asked Berhalter about moving a naval warship. The two were the face of answering for the offense of the social media post. Adams at one point mispronounced the word Iran. He was corrected by an Iranian journalist and asked about how he feels playing for the national team of a country that still has racism.

That is a 23-year-old, cool as a cucumber, who is representing the best of America and understands the platform he as as the captain of the USMNT. In other words, Captain America.