Tyler Adams to captain the USA? I love it. i love the child I honestly couldn’t speak more highly of a person I’ve coached than Tyler.
I heard USA boss Gregg Berhalter hold a players’ poll just before the game against Wales to choose his captain for the World Cup. And it’s no surprise to me, not one bit, that Tyler comes out on top.
He’s one of the favorites I’ve ever coached. He’s a real warrior guy, tough as nails, but what I like most about Tyler is how he treats himself.
He was with USA U18 when I was U19 coach. When really good U18 players were ready to make the step up, they came into my camps and Tyler was one of those players.
But he was so good he was only with my group for a short time! But I kept working with him because I was also an assistant with the U20s. Even then, he did the right things 99.9 percent of the time.
The occasional times when he wasn’t? Well, Tyler also stood out in how he reacted.
Football is an emotional game, training and matches are competitive, there are players who want contracts, players are being let go, stuff is everywhere.
But with Tyler you can have disagreements or even a fight, you can tell him this and that and when you’re done you shake hands and he goes over the limit and does his best.
A lot of players can’t do that. There is a lot of ego in football. Many players let a queasy feeling arise for months. If he doesn’t agree with something, he says so. But you’re going to get 100 percent of everything he’s going to do – his recovery, his training, his practice game, the game, whatever.
He’s as fit as can be all the time. If you do that, you’ll have a chance for a wonderful career, but you’ll also gain the respect of your teammates.
When Tyler plays well, it’s because he’s good and deserves it and works hard. If he’s playing badly and having a bad day, he’s still at 100 percent. He’ll never have a bad day because he’s not trying and the players know that. you respect it.
He plays for Leeds in the Premier League and is around 5ft 8in tall. But the way he holds himself, the way he plays, his touch and his challenge, his strength, you’d think he’s over six feet tall.
He’s had a great start at Leeds under their American coach Jesse Marsch, having joined there for $25m from German team RB Leipzig this summer.
Incidentally, Leeds bought him after England midfielder Kalvin Phillips, who is expected to come on as a substitute against the USA on Friday, left them for Manchester City.
USA’s lead against England will likely be the most defining moment of Tyler’s career to date. But whatever happens in Qatar, he has many more big moments ahead of him.
At 23, he could be captain for years and even at the next World Cup – a home World Cup.
But for now he’s focused on Friday and his midfield duel against England’s Jude Bellingham and the equally impressive Declan Rice.
That battle in midfield will be crucial in determining who comes out on top in Qatar and wins the game. Don’t count against Tyler.