You might hate Gregg Berhalter’s decision to play his emerging central midfielder Tyler Adams at right back and it might look sloppy at times during Thursday’s USMNT friendly against Ecuador in Florida, but give it some time.
For now, the RB Leipzig 20-year-old has been handed one of the most important positions in Berhalter’s United States men’s national team set-up, where he’ll play right back ahead of a Premier League mainstay in DeAndre Yedlin (who Berhalter prefers as a wing).
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There are reasons to like the move, which allows Adams to serve as another fireball in the center of the pitch when the Yanks go to a back three while in possession, and also reasons to want to put in on a rocket to the moon. Adams playing right back when the U.S. does not have the ball, for example, means he’s not at his best position when the Americans are trying to get the darn thing back.
“The analogy you can make with it as how Manchester City plays. They have a left back that moves into central midfield in attack. Obviously, it’s on the opposite side here, but you often find yourself tucked into the middle of the field being able to help with the transition plays and attacking in different roles. The most important thing that Gregg emphasized was that the No. 8 can take up that position, the winger can take up that position and I can take up that position at different times. The chemistry and rotation between those players will be very important.”
There’s a lot to digest there, and a lot of these players have only had a couple of days plus some video conferences with the system, so be sure to have patience when watching the Yanks and Ecuador this evening.
And it very much might not be the right system for the team against opponents of Ecuador’s caliber and higher; We’ll see, but Berhalter is going to try his preferred system and style of play before opting for other ideas, and that’s the way it’s supposed to go early in a managerial tenure which won’t see meaningful matches until the summer (After all, it’s a lot easier to switch back into comfortable systems than to start with comfort and move onto a system deployed by one of the best managers in the world).