Tyler Adams has begun his fourth season with RB Leipzig, helping establish the club as one of the most competitive both in the Bundesliga and the UEFA Champions League. In turn, Adams believes that German football is helping to build soccer into one of the biggest sports in America.
It's been a big summer of change at the Red Bull Arena in Leipzig, with Julian Nagelsmann being replaced by an old friend for Adams, in Jesse Marsch. The pair have been reunited from their New York Red Bulls days and it's just one of the major storylines at the club heading into the 2021/22 season.
In an exclusive interview with bundesliga.com, Adams discusses Marsch's arrival, why winning a title with Leipzig is so important to him and more on how the Bundesliga is helping to build soccer's reputation in his native USA...
bundesliga.com: You went on holiday early in the summer. How important was the time in New York with your family to regenerate?
Tyler Adams: "Yeah, for me it was very important to see the family again, after a long year of Coronavirus and my family not being able to travel. No national team for me; we only played in Europe. It was very nice to see the family, have some relaxing time with them - now it's time to go again for the season."
bundesliga.com: How close are you to your family?
Adams: "My family, for me, is everything. They've given me everything that I've had, whether it's driving back and forth to practice at a young age and training with the New York Red Bulls or teaching me the way of life and doing everything. My mum has taught me so much. My dad, my brothers, mean everything to me. I talk to them every day almost and yeah, they're what keeps me grounded and what keeps me humble."
bundesliga.com: You are now playing your fourth season in the Bundesliga. How exactly can this experience help you this season?
Adams: "Yeah, it's crazy to think that it's already been my fourth season here. Obviously lots of ups and downs when I first arrived, having to deal with an injury and coming back and then coming back stronger. So now I feel like my body is finally ready to compete at the highest level and give everything that I have. And it's good to be playing now for a coach that trusts in my abilities and is going to help me continue to develop and play for a young team with a lot of international players. We're excited for this season."
bundesliga.com: Last Friday, you played at home against VfB Stuttgart in front of more than 23,000 spectators. Football in front of spectators, how much did you miss that?
Adams: "Yeah, it's weird, I never get nervous in a game and then when you have your fans supporting you again, you have a bit of a tingling sensation. And I was very excited to have the fans behind us again, they give us so much extra energy and so much passion and push us at the last minutes of the game, or after we score a goal to celebrate and see how happy everyone is. It's a really good feeling."
Watch: Leipzig's big win over Stuttgart on Matchday 2
bundesliga.com: Your compatriot Jesse Marsch took over as coach in Leipzig this summer. Would you say you have a special relationship and what has been his impact so far?
Adams: "Our relationship is so interesting because he gave me my first professional contract when I was 15 years old or 16 years old, in New York. He sat down with my family and told my family: 'trust me, I'm going to help Tyler develop and make the next step, he's going to be a player that maybe one day plays in Europe, just trust me.' And we trusted him and it all worked out. And it's crazy because he took his pathway to go to Salzburg first and then come back to Leipzig. And for me it was from New York to Leipzig and then we connected again. So it's quite funny how that worked, but I'm very happy. Of course to have an American coach here in Germany again, it's pretty special."
bundesliga.com: You played under Marsch in New York, as you said. Do you recognise some of the patterns from back then? How has he developed since then?
Adams: "The same style but in a little bit of a different way. I think, tactically, and stuff like that, he's adapted his style of play and little nuances to how we play the football side of things, but off the field very positive. A lot of energy, and he wants to help every single person develop and become a good person. I think that's super important because this is what gives the players the trust on the field, you want to battle and fight for him and do everything we can to win."
bundesliga.com: A number of young American players such as Gio Reyna, Matthew Hoppe and you have celebrated breakthroughs in the Bundesliga in recent years. Why do you think the Bundesliga is such a hotbed for American talent?
Adams: "I think the most important thing that you see in Germany is that every single team is giving these young players an opportunity to play. And you know, you can't show what you're capable of unless you're on the field and you're playing. So whether it's a good game or a bad game, I think the coaches are trusting more and more these young players to come and eventually we're going to be able to handle the level. For me, I was fortunate to come to Leipzig because here we have every single player is a young player that has so much talent and we compete every day to make each other better. But I think for Americans, they're confident in coming to Germany because other Americans are playing and succeeding. So I think that's very important."
bundesliga.com: The number of American stars in the Bundesliga is a great development, would you agree?
Adams: "Oh absolutely. More and more Americans now, I feel like almost every team has an American on their team now. It's super important for the growth of the game, especially in America."
bundesliga.com: Your buddy Gio Reyna now wears the number seven at BVB and it seems that he carries more responsibility. Do you expect him to take another step forward this season?
Adams: "100%. Gio is a top player, everyone knows this. He's capable of carrying a team for sure. He has so much talent and ability. His number changes but his talent is the same. He's going to do what he needs to do; goals, assists, he's very skilful and he'll be able to raise his numbers, raise his game and take his game to another level this year."
bundesliga.com: Joe Scally is another young American in the Bundesliga. Do you know each other? How do you see him as a player?
Adams: "So, I don't know him personally but it's funny because he played against my younger brother when he was on New York City FC and my brother was on the New York Red Bulls. So I haven't been able to watch him too much but I watched the Bundesliga game that he played and his debut against Bayern and he was amazing. I look forward to seeing him, and hopefully he's in the national team soon."
bundesliga.com: You played in the Nations League this summer. How did it feel to win the title?
Adams: "Yeah it felt really good. I think the best feeling is obviously beating Mexico in the final - a huge rivalry between our countries and our national teams. Of course, a lot of respect for them, but at the same time we want to win every single game. It was a very successful summer for our national team, winning the Nations League and also the Gold Cup with a completely different team, a lot of MLS America-based players. Now this next international window is very important for us because we have World Cup qualifying. We want to win those games and continue to qualify for the World Cup."
bundesliga.com: How important do you think this success will be in establishing soccer as an American national sport?
Adams: "It's so important and I think this idea of how many young players are coming to Germany, and coming to some of the best teams in the world - we're really starting to build up and establish soccer as one of the strongest sports in America."
bundesliga.com: In your last game against VfB Stuttgart, there were American coaches on both sides. Where do you see the development of American football leading, and where does this strong connection between American football and the Bundesliga come from?
Adams: "Yeah, I don't know. I think that just the German perspective with the U.S, the connection between the military. Americans have always felt welcomed in Germany and I think that's super important. And from a coaching perspective it's amazing to see, that not only players are making the transition and wanting to come and have a new challenge, but now coaches as well. They want to come here and coach because the level is so high."
Watch: Marsch and Matarazzo became the first American coaches to face-off in the Bundesliga!
bundesliga.com: You won the Nations League along with John Anthony Brooks - on Matchday 3 you will face each other as opponents. Do you wish each other luck before a game? Or do niceties have to wait until after the game?
Adams: "We'll save the small talk for after the game, but John Brooks is a big time player, of course. He's obviously been in Germany his whole life, but the connection that I have with him in the national team is very good. He's a very good player, and an amazing person as well, and he's helped me with my adaptation coming into the Bundesliga, and also into the national team when I was younger. So he's helped me a lot but I can't wait to play against him now."
bundesliga.com: What kind of game do you expect?
Adams: "Yeah, a difficult one. Wolfsburg's always a difficult game especially when you play in Wolfsburg, it's even more difficult. So it's going to be a challenge but we're going to be ready for it."
bundesliga.com: In a few weeks you will face Bayern Munich. Recent games have been pretty close and intense. What do you like about games like this?
Adams: "They're the highest level you can play in football. These are the games you dream of playing against some of the best teams in the world. Bayern has many of the best players in the world, so whenever you're able to step on the field, you're able to challenge your own abilities as well and see where you stand in comparison with some of the best players in the world. It's a game we want to win, we know it's going to be obviously a difficult match, Bayern is no easy game ever but we're excited for these games."
bundesliga.com: What do you think can be a tactical tool to win this time?
Adams: "That's a good question. It will be an interesting one. It's still some time away so we have to do some thinking about that one. But when we have the game at home, for the first time, I think our fans will be a huge factor for that game."
bundesliga.com: With Dayot Upamecano and Julian Nagelsmann, you will come up against two former Leipzig players. How do you feel about this? Is that an issue in your preparation?
Adams: "No, not at all. If anything it makes it more fun. You're playing against people that you know and obviously you want to continue to prove something. We wish them all the best in going to Bayern, but now they're on the other side of things, so we want to win that game."
bundesliga.com: Where do you see the biggest differences between Nagelsmann and Marsch?
Adams: "I think they're so different. I think the coaching styles are a little bit different tactically - it's hard to pick one little thing or two little things that are so different. But we're a different team than last year. We kept some of the amazing things that Julian did in the structure of the team but Jesse brings his new fresh ideas and different types of energy and I think that will help us."
bundesliga.com: You know Julian Nagelsmann well and you know his training methods. Do you think it will be even harder to beat Bayern now?
Adams: "No, I don't think it makes it harder to beat Bayern. I think that Julian is an amazing coach. Tactically and personally, he helped me develop so much. Now playing against him will be a little bit weird and different, but that's just football."
bundesliga.com: Last year you were in the race for the title for a long time. What are the objectives for this season?
Adams: "Continuing to obviously qualify for the Champions League is going to be very important for Leipzig. We've established ourselves now as one of the top four teams consistently throughout the years and then winning a trophy - super important. We've now made the Pokal final two times in the last three years, and we've come second in both of those, so the Pokal is a huge opportunity to raise a trophy. And we have to set realistic expectations for us to win the league as well. It's going to be a huge challenge with how many games we have to play with the Champions League, with the Pokal and then obviously Bundesliga games, but I think we have the team, and the depth, to make a real run for it."
bundesliga.com: What is your personal goal this season?
Adams: "Win a trophy. Win the Pokal, or win the Bundesliga."