The gravitational pull of Tyler Adams can be felt whenever he is on the field. Because of a gauntlet of injuries, though, that presence has been absent from both RB Leipzig and the U.S. men’s national team since May.
When Adams will return is the burning question so many want answered. His timetable has been delayed again and again. The last seven months have been fraught with deceptive, unceasing injuries that the 20-year-old midfielder cannot wait to put behind him and build off of.
“Definitely a long, frustrating process,” Adams told OaM. “But one I’m determined to use for motivation to develop my game and take it to another level when I return.”
The niggling injury to his groin cropped up in late March. Adams had just helped the U.S. to an encouraging 1-0 result over Ecuador on March 21, playing at right back as part of an elaborate tactical wrinkle from new national team manager Gregg Berhalter.
Adams’ versatility is the icing on top of his indomitable athleticism. He returned to Germany and played his preferred role in defensive midfield on March 30, as Leipzig dismantled Hertha Berlin, 5-0. He has only played one match in the seven months since.
That came on May 25, the DFB-Pokal Final against Bayern Munich. After a 90-minute performance in a 3-0 defeat, Adams re-aggravated his groin and was forced to withdraw from the U.S. Gold Cup roster.
“The biggest challenge I faced with the groin injury was that one day I woke up and felt great, but the very next day I woke up and had complaints again,” Adams told Kicker earlier this month. “That was crazy.”
His scenario has been strange, bordering on Sisyphean. For almost the entirety of his seven-month struggle, Adams had been thought to be a few steps away from returning.
After withdrawing from the Gold Cup, Adams trained with the New York Red Bulls in June, during Bradley Wright-Phillips’ recovery from practically the same injury.
“I couldn’t tell when he was training (that he had the injury),” Wright-Phillips said. “But that’s what this injury is like.”
“You can get through it, you just won’t be yourself. The pain is like, it’s hard to explain. Like, I can imagine, for a final, you could go out there. Whether you could shoot your hardest or sprint your fastest depends on the day.”
Leipzig and the U.S. men’s national team need Adams to be the best version of himself. As he was reclaiming that in August, a foot injury set him back further.
Adams remains on the brink, as he has been for some time. His aim was to return after the October international break, but that target – like several others – has been missed. Whether he’s going over a speed bump or taking another detour remains to be seen.