Tyler Adams looks set to become a key player for RB Leipzig and the US men's national team for years to come, but what do you really know about the all-action midfielder?
Allow bundesliga.com to fill you in…
1) Long road to the top
Life may be pretty sweet right now for Adams, but - as he puts it - it was a "grind" to get there. Born and raised in Wappingers Falls, New York, on 14 February 1999 he was snapped up by the New York Red Bull academy at the tender age of 11. Exciting as that sounds, it also meant a daily 150-mile round-trip to get to training and back.
"Being in school and having to do the drive, it was definitely a big commitment," he told US Soccer. "Having to go to practice from 8:30pm to 10:00pm. I wouldn't get back home until midnight. Waking up the next day at 7:00am and having to go to school, it definitely wasn't the typical teenage schedule. This drive was always a part of my challenge. It's helped me in a big way."
Watch: Adams settling in at RB Leipzig
2) Anti-Celtic family dog
Adams may have represented the US from youth level right through to the seniors, but there is a distinct Scottish connection, too. "My grandfather on my stepdad’s side of the family was from Scotland and came to the US with his girlfriend in 1961," he told the Player's Tribune.
"They didn’t bring much with them, but they did have their soccer fandom. The whole Scottish side of our family is die-hard Rangers fans. I can’t even wear a green shirt around them because that’s Celtic’s colours — their rivals. I made that mistake once. I was told that if I wanted to eat with the rest of the family I had to change. I thought it was a joke. It was not a joke. I mean, my uncle Alan even has a dog named Ranger, and if you say the word Celtic to the dog, it growls."
3) Star pupil
After joining the Red Bulls’ Regional Development School (RDS) programme, Adams continued his studies at Wappinger’s Roy C. Ketcham High School via distance learning after he was accepted into US Soccer’s U17 residency programme in Bradenton, Florida.
"I’m missing the social aspect, which is hard for any kid my age," said Adams, who graduated in 2017. "But then again, I have the opportunity to play pro soccer. That doesn’t come around every day."
It has certainly paid off. Adams was called up to the senior USMNT squad for the first time in November 2017 - at the same time Schalke's Weston McKennie made a goal-scoring debut - and has been a regular for the Stars and Stripes ever since.
4) Assist for Thierry Henry
Thierry Henry was one of the Red Bulls’ biggest names when Adams was coming through the club’s youth system. The generation gap between the two meant their names were never on the same teamsheet, but Adams did play a role in one of the French superstar’s most famous MLS goals.
Henry bent a legendary ‘Olimpico’ goal in off the far post direct from a corner against Columbus Crew in September 2012. The name of the ball boy who passed him the ball for his iconic strike? None other than Tyler Adams, a self-confessed fan of the forward. "As a kid, I had a poster of him in my room," he told Bild. "I often watched his games for Arsenal or Barcelona. I was then able to train with him. I became a professional because of Henry. He was my motivation."
5) Extra-curricular activities
When he's not training or playing football, Adams likes to take his mind off the game by going for walks in the great outdoors and trying his hand at photography, while he was also an accomplished point guard in his school basketball teams.
The Leipzig No.14 is also very family oriented, and would often watch his younger brother play in the Red Bulls academy when he was still based in the US. He also bought his mum a brand-new car as a Christmas present in 2018.
6) Leipzig's guarantee
In the 18 league games before Adams took to the pitch for Leipzig in 2018/19 following his move in the winter transfer window, Die Roten Bullen won nine of their matches, drawing four and losing five. In the 16 games from his debut - a 4-0 win over Fortuna Düsseldorf on Matchday 19 - onward, Ralf Rangnick's men won 10, drew five and lost just once.
The team's goal difference (+11 before Adams, +21 with Adams) is also telling, while with him in the side, Leipzig averaged 2.1 points and 1.9 goals per game. Without him, those figures dropped off to 2.0 and 1.8 respectively. The difference may not sound like much, but over the course of a full season it can make a big difference.
7) Big game player
Lauded by fellow American and former Leipzig assistant coach Jesse Marsch for his "unique mentality", Adams truly comes into his own when it matters most. With him in the team, the USA earned respectable draws against European champions Portugal and world champions France, while they beat fierce regional rivals Mexico 1-0 thanks to his winner in September 2018.
Watch: Highlights of Adams' debut Bundesliga match against Düsseldorf
While Adams has made a central midfield berth his own at Leipzig, at international level he has recently been deployed at right-back by Gregg Berhalter. "Do we need a stable figure there, more of a passing figure, or do we need activity?" the head coach told ESPN's Jeff Carlisle when asked about the tactical switch. "Right now, I like having stability and activity in that position […] That's why we think of something like that. We get the best of both worlds when we have the ball."
Adams himself is open to the change. "It's definitely an interesting role," he told US Soccer. "The analogy you can make with it is how Manchester City plays. They have a left back that moves into central midfield in attack. Obviously, it’s on the opposite side here, but you often find yourself tucked into the middle of the field being able to help with the transition plays and attacking in different roles. The most important thing that Gregg emphasized was that the No. 8 can take up that position, the winger can take up that position and I can take up that position at different times. The chemistry and rotation between those players will be very important."
9) Cash or card?
Adams has settled well in Germany and says that the number of English speakers in the team – in addition to compatriot Jesse Marsch on the coaching staff – helped smooth over the transition from New York, even if he does still miss his mum's home-cooked meals.
However, it has not all been plain sailing. "A lot of people in Germany speak English, but sometimes you run into a situation someone doesn’t. I went to the grocery story one time and they only spoke German and they have such different accents in Leipzig.
"I tried to use my card at the cash register and I was just standing there, wondering why this lady was just staring at me. She wasn’t saying anything except this one word in a German accent that was harder to understand. After a few minutes wondering why she didn’t give me my receipt and looking at my card sitting there, I just gave her cash and left. I came around later and figured out that she was asking me to type in my pin number, but I didn’t think I was using a debit card!"
10) Star pupil, part II
Very much a thinking-man's player on the pitch, Adams is eager to keep the grey matter in shape off it too, and is continuing his academic studies into higher education.
He is enrolled in an online degree programme with Southern New Hampshire University in the US, thanks to the institution's partnership with the MLS, which offers top-flight players discounted rates to pursue a degree. Adams is due to graduate in 2021.
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