It’s not the most important takeaway from the 1-0 USMNT win over Paraguay, and one good performance doesn’t give the United States immediate hope to turn things around, but it would be doing the 19-year-old a disservice if we left him out of the discussion.
The New York Red Bulls midfielder earned his place on the field as the U.S. pushed toward victory in front of 10,000 strong in North Carolina. With Bobby Wood struggling to influence the game along up front and both Wil Trapp and Marky Delgado given more holding roles in midfield, Adams stole the show, displaying multiple skill sets both on and off the ball.
“I can sit and facilitate the play, or I can make the runs out of midfield and be dangerous,” Adams said after the game. “So continue to get those final plays right, creating chances, adding assists to my game is obviously more important for an 8, but as a 6 as well – which is where I’m playing for Red Bulls – I’m comfortable playing either one.”
Adams’ most important contribution of the night was also his most eye-popping, absolutely roasting the Paraguay high press with a stunning burst of speed, but he was also silky smooth on the ball and found himself in pockets of space on multiple occasions. His use of that space was impressive and incisive, and he was the most dangerous player on the field.
He also was a good fit for the 4-1-4-1 formation that interim head coach Dave Sarachan has used exclusively in his time in charge, and while the similarities between Adams, Delgado, and Trapp sometimes got in the way, Adams also used the opportunity in a formation without a true creative presence to fill that gap at times.
“Tyler is so effective in terms of breaking out – as he showed on the penalty,” Sarachan said after the game, “but also defensively when we want to press, and that system [the 4-1-4-1] allows us to really get after teams and make it difficult on them.”
Adams wasn’t the only impressive U.S. player on the field, but for a 19-year-old to slot in that effectively and that seamlessly is a promising prospect for fans starving for someone to lift the weight off Christian Pulisic’s shoulders.
“I feel comfortable here,” Adams said. “Gaining that confidence throughout the week is obviously important, but playing with guys like Wil and Marky, they make it easier on you. Wil obviously captain of his club and captain tonight, he gains confidence throughout the game and instills you with confidence as well so it was easy for me, I feel like I fit right in.”
With just six total shots on goal, it was by no means a barn-burning performance by the U.S. attack, but against an experienced and defensively sound South American opponent, what Adams supplied was enough to get the job done, something not always provided by even more senior players in the recent past.