Tyler Adams – RB Leipzig’s hustling deep-lying playmaker

Tyler Adams is a child of Red Bull’s impressive worldwide portfolio of football teams which are churning out talent at an impeccable rate. He established himself as a starter at the New York Red Bulls as a teenager and has adapted seamlessly to German football with RB Leipzig, despite joining during the winter. He is part of a talented set of American Bundesliga imports who are establishing themselves in Germany and forming a pivotal core for the future of Gregg Berhalter’s United States Men’s National Team. He is the type of hardworking, tactically-adaptable and technically skilled midfielder that Julian Nagelsmann prefers to have in his midfield.


Before making the trek across the Atlantic, Adams participated in the 2017 U20 World Cup in Korea Republic with the likes of Josh Sargent and Jeremy Ebobisse. Adams played in a double-pivot as Tab Ramos implemented a 4-2-3-1 against Senegal with the RB Leipzig youngster pushing forward to great effect. Adams and Sargent worked a fine break to create an opportunity for the Werder Bremen striker to have a volley from the edge of the box saved. Ramos switched to a 4-4-2 diamond against Venezuela as the deep-lying playmaker was strong and composed on the ball while looking to break the lines with every pass.


Jesse Marsch and Ralf Rangnick deemed it the perfect time to bring the 20-year-old to Red Bull’s premier franchise in Leipzig in a flurry of transfers with Amadou Haidara, Hannes Wolf also joining from RB Leipzig’s other feeder club, Red Bull Salzburg. In an away match against Fortuna Dusseldorf, Adams drove the ball into the opposition half to play a ball for Yussuf Poulsen who flicked a pass for Marcel Sabitzer to cross for two shots on goal. Adams is an extremely modern and well-rounded midfielder as he meshes hustling mobility with technical grace.


Even though he is deployed in a central role, Adams is involved in the wide areas to create combinations and overloads in the lateral zones as his midfield partner in Diego Demme or Kevin Kampl will continue to move and play the ball through the lines. In a home match to Hoffenheim, Rangnick switched to a 3-5-2 as his side struggled against Nagelsmann’s Hoffenheim. At half-time, Adams replaced Stefan Ilsanker as he switched to a 4-3-3 as the American made an impact when he changed the game. Adams worked a ball through to Sabitzer to play in Halstenberg who crossed for Willi Orban to tap in an equaliser.


Adams changed the game with his passing and moving ability as he can thread the ball through tight spaces while also moving into space to receive the ball. The American youngster also thrives at distributing the ball through the lines while he is comfortable in receiving the ball from the centre-backs and connecting with teammates in the final third. He is quick in tight spaces, especially in mentally processing situations and executing them with his body as against Hertha Berlin, he received the ball which triggered pressure from the Hertha attackers before playing a pass to Poulsen with the outside of his boot. In the same match, he had another moment where the ball was bobbling around before it was headed into his path by Mattheus Cunha as the New Yorker trapped the ball and played a one two with Haidara before playing the ball through the lines to Poulsen.


Adams not only has the ability to play passes through the lines to expedite build-up routines but is also a gifted at playing well-weighted through balls in a creative sense. In the match against Hertha Berlin, he dropped in between his centre-backs to receive possession before playing a well-weighted through ball to release Poulsen to cross for Timo Werner. His spectacular assist was yet another example of his creativity as Leipzig won a long ball, Kampl played a pass to Adams who allowed the ball to run to his opposite foot, turned, picked up his head and played a through ball to Poulsen who went through on goal and chipped the ball over Rune Jarstein. Adams ability to turn defence into attacks at pace with courageous passing has made him an intriguing prospect for Rangnick as he will continue to be a pivotal player under Nagelsmann.


Despite his penchant for effective movement, Adams possesses an astute positional sense, especially in defensive situations. He can shield his zone and position to great effect in order to make integral interceptions by blocking passing lanes. He is perceptive at deciphering the oppositions passing sequences as he adroitly moves to intercept possession and swiftly recycle the ball into a renewed attacking wave. Against Hoffenheim, he moved to block a Pavel Kaderabek pass while against Hertha, he cleverly intercepted a goal-kick up in the higher positions, so Leipzig could build an attack.

Tyler Adams winning a ball from a goal-kick.

Tyler Adams winning a ball from a goal-kick.


The 20-year-old is also dominant aerially despite his more compact build as he lunges in the air to commit to duels. On the ground, Adams is not quick to dive to the turf as he is an impeccably clean tackler while he bustles to win possession to bring defensive solidity to Leipzig’s play. Kampl will push up as Leipzig’s midfield double pivot will share the defensive responsibility while remaining in the same vertical line to press the opposition. When fit, Adams has usurped Demme and Ilsanker in the pecking order as it is an interesting prospect to see how he will develop under Nagelsmann.


"Six, eights, tens, full-backs - these are all positions he can play," said Rangnick in Adams’ arrival announcement in January. “He has an uncanny sense of the situation when it comes to going ball-hunting,” continued Rangnick.


Adams has assimilated to European football perfectly under the tutelage of one of Germany’s most well-schooled coaches. Nagelsmann’s brand of progressive football and ability to develop footballers into more technically and tactically refined versions of themselves could aid in Adams’ development. United States Men’s National Team coach, Berhalter is also seeking a more expansive style of play with Adams an integral conduit of build-up in midfield or at fullback. Adams could develop into a well-rounded and top tier midfielder for club and country in RB Leipzig and the United States’ exciting footballing future.