Tyler Adams and RB Leipzig are on course for UEFA Champions League glory. - © RB Leipzig / motivio / Florian Eisele
Tyler Adams and RB Leipzig are on course for UEFA Champions League glory. - © RB Leipzig / motivio / Florian Eisele
bundesliga

Tyler Adams eager to “keep growing” after UEFA Champions League heroics for RB Leipzig

Tyler Adams became the first American player to score at such an advanced stage of the UEFA Champions League with his quarter-final winner for RB Leipzig against Atletico Madrid, but the USMNT international is still hungry for more.

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The first American ever to score at such an advanced stage of the Champions League is set to become only the second to play in a semi-final, after DaMarcus Beasley for PSV Eindhoven in 2005, and how could anybody deny him that honour?

The 21-year-old from Wappinger Falls is the living embodiment of the club currently taking Europe by storm: recondite and humble, yet ready to explode.

"It's definitely an exciting moment, obviously for myself but most importantly for the club," Adams told CBS. "We're setting another landmark in how quickly we're able to progress the squad in the right direction, so it's a historic moment and we're excited to play in the semi-final of the Champions League.

"We’re focusing on the next task at hand and really trying now to win this whole thing."

Just 11 years ago, when Adams was in fourth grade, RB Leipzig were being born.

Both have matured exponentially, and the ultimate prize in European club football is within their reach. Sound daunting? Not for a man who's already overcome plenty of obstacles with bravura.

"To be fair, it hasn’t been the easiest for me because you come into the team and you want to create an amazing relationship with the coach right away, but I was out for six months as soon as [Julian Nagelsmann] came in so he didn’t really know what I was capable of or how I could help the team," Adams recalls of the serious injury which set him back just when Leipzig's new coach arrived last summer.

"You have a lot of guys that establish themselves under a new coach and you can see it hasn't been the easiest for me. Coming off the bench in a game like this is a game I want to be starting. But he gives me the confidence to trust my abilities and go in."

Watch: Tyler Adams as focused as ever during Covid crisis

Though Adams knew he was not going to start the historic 2-1 win over Atletico Madrid, he was primed and ready for the impact he eventually made.

"I had a conversation with him and the tactics going into it and he just told me to be ready off the bench because, in a game like this, not everyone can play the full game," Adams said. "He knows that my energy can be the difference maker.

"The team as a whole, going into it we knew we had to be gritty and match the intensity of the match for the first 10-20 minutes and after that we knew we were going to be able to be dynamic with the ball and create opportunities."

What Adams, who only had one Bundesliga goal to his name, could not be ready for, on the other hand, was being the 88th-minute match winner.

"When I saw the ball hit the back of the net it was a bit surreal, especially with having no fans there, where you get that real excitement from realising 'wow, I just did something really special'," he said. "It was crazy. I'm still excited from it and we're looking forward to the next game now."

Tyler Adams will never forget his match-winning goal for RB Leipzig against Atletico Madrid in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League. - Peter Schatz/Peter Schatz / Pool

Even if he may be reserved the same super-sub role in the semi-final against PSG, Adams acknowledges it will be another step in a development which has gathered pace in 2020. Since action resumed following the Covid-19 outbreak, he featured in each and every single one of Leipzig's remaining nine Bundesliga fixtures, nudging him up to a total of 24 outings in Germany's top flight.

"I'm learning a completely new style of play under [Nagelsmann], so every day is a learning process and I'm trying to grow every single day with every single training session and continue to establish myself in the team," Adams said.

"For me it’s great to score a goal, but I want to be a player that's starting every single game."

If Adams can keep on making such a contribution to Leipzig's historic season, that wish should soon be granted.