Tyler Adams Has Arrived

© Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Since he arrived in 2013, AS Roma fans have referred to their Dutch midfielder, Kevin Strootman, as “Er Lavatrice” which means, simply, “The Washing Machine.” Their former manager Rudi Garcia explained that his teammates bestowed the rather strange nickname upon the Dutchman because he cleans up all their mistakes. The nickname grew into a supportive internet meme during his lengthy recovery from multiple knee injuries as fans posted photos of their washing machines to wish him well.

4,300 miles away, across the Atlantic Ocean, another “washing machine” is growing right in front of Red Bull New York fans.

Though he lacks the size and experience of Strootman, 18-year-old midfielder Tyler Adams has rapidly gained international acclaim during his breakout season for both club and country. On Wednesday night, only days after attending his high school prom, the teenager keyed his club’s midfield domination in their 1-0 U.S. Open Cup victory over their crosstown rival New York City FC. Following the match, there was no shortage of praise for Adams throughout Red Bull Arena, and across social media.

“Some of the guys were just talking about him in the locker room, Tyler’s the type of guy who can cover so much ground in the midfield,” said veteran Sal Zizzo after the match. “You saw him in the middle of the field just take off and run a couple of guys down and force turnovers.” Speaking exclusively to Metro Soccer Nation, he continued, “It’s a great thing to have on your team. We all think he’s growing into a great player, he’s mature beyond his years, and we’re grateful to have him.”

With manager Jesse Marsch suspended for the match, Chris Armas stepped into the role behind the bench and had no shortage of praise for Adams afterwards. “I said to him after the game, he’s so much fun to watch. I played that position on the field. I think I know what goes into it, how demanding it is. I think he’s way better than I was,” said the MLS legend.

Tyler Adams (4) helped mitigate David Villa during the Hudson River Derby [© Noah K. Murray]

He continued, “Watching him play, the way he can cover ground, at such a young age be that fearless. He can just clog up the middle, shut things down. Second half, you can see one of the recovery runs he made down the left channel. It’s incredible to watch.”

Wednesday night’s match was Adams’ first since returning from the Under-20 World Cup in South Korea where he helped lead the United States to a quarterfinals appearance. While there, the American soccer community took note of his fearlessness and calm demeanor with the ball. It didn’t take long for prognosticators to write about his bright future in Europe’s toughest competitions.

Adams, however, has seemingly been able to maintain a level head as his status rises across the soccer world. Despite being a teenager, he comes across in interviews as a grizzled and humble veteran with decades of experience. Responding to a question about brewing rumors regarding his future away from the Red Bulls, Adams provided an adroit non-answer, “I’m just focused on what I’m doing here right now, and continue to get better every day.”

His talent and potential has not been lost on the Red Bulls’ organization, however. Armas spoke honestly about the precocious Adams’ future, “I think we all have to take notice and enjoy that as much as we’re going to have him here. In terms of, might he follow along? I think with his mentality, aspirations, I’m sure that he could play in a different league someday.”

He elaborated on his solemn thoughts, “As long as we have him, I don’t know the discussions behind the scenes, but Tyler is ours, I hope we keep him for a long time. When it comes time for him to go, we would be wishing him well.”

Considering his impressive pedigree, both domestic and international, it should have come as no surprise that Adams acquitted himself well in his first Hudson River Derby. Now that he’s cemented his role in the lineup alongside Felipe, Red Bulls fans will have the unique privilege to watch one of the great American soccer products play in their own stadium. Though the team has enjoyed much success over the past four seasons, he, alone, is worth the price of admission.