FIFA World Cup 2022: The impact Tyler Adams made on the United States’ campaign – scout report
Before the FIFA World Cup started, United States manager Gregg Berhalter named 23-year-old Leeds United midfielder Tyler Adams captain for the tournament, after the captaincy was decided by a vote of the players. Adams repaid the faith given to him by his fellow players, with the American midfielder being arguably the star of the tournament for the Stars & Stripes.
After winning back-to-back man-of-the-match awards in the US’s first two group-stage matches, he continued to be a vital cog in Berhalter’s midfield throughout the rest of their time in the tournament. This scout report and tactical analysis will take a deep dive into the impact the New York-born player had as the midfield general for this young United States squad.
All over the United States midfield
When trying to explain the impact that the young American made during the United States’ tournament, looking at the statistics shows just how impactful he was in making things click. In the group stages, Adams led the World Cup in tackles, while also covering the most distance of any other player in the World Cup during the group stages. This is before even saying how he led the United States squad in almost every statistical category throughout the World Cup.
The heat map above shows the ground Adams covered for the United States during the whole time the US were involved, and it illustrates just how impactful he was. Whether it was distribution from deeper lying positions, tracking back to win back possession in a dangerous area, or just being a midfield general, Adams did it all for the United States. This scout report and tactical analysis will break each category down in more detail, which will show just how impactful Adams was and has become on this very young United States squad.
Starting attacking moves from deeper areas
When it came to attacking moves from the United States, Tyler Adams almost always played some part in moving the ball into the advanced areas. While Adams did not directly contribute to a goal for the United States this World Cup, he touched the ball more than any other player in the US’s midfield.
The data viz above shows the pass map of the Leeds United midfielder in this tournament, which illustrates just how often he was able to get on the ball. In total, Adams averaged 80 touches a game, with him averaging 66 passes per 90 minutes with a pass accuracy of 90%. This led all United States players, not just midfielders, in these passing statistics.
As the pass map shows, most of Adams’ passes occurred in the middle third of the pitch, but he also moved into the defensive and attacking third to get on the ball, which helps to illustrate the large amount of ground he covered in this tournament as a whole.
The image above shows the one time in this World Cup that Adams should have had an assist, but unfortunately, Chelsea winger Christian Pulisic missed the chance. In the phase of play above, the ball is cleared away by the Dutch defence, but not far enough to fully clear the danger. Already in an advanced position to assist in the attacking move, Adams is able to play a perfectly weighted first touch looping ball over the top and in behind to an onside Pulisic. This is after he doesn’t shy away from the contact coming to him by Ajax player Davy Klassen.
While this example may show the tenacity of Adams, as well as his determination to win the ball back in this advanced area, it also is able to show a glimpse of the distribution that Adams was capable of in this tournament.
Though the first image showed the contribution that Adams made at times with his distribution in the final third, the vast majority of his distribution occurred in the middle third of the pitch. This allowed the American midfielder to dictate the play of the United States while in possession, allowing him time and space to find options to play the ball forward.
In the phase of play above in their first group stage match against Wales, Adams has found himself in a pocket of space in midfield between the forward and midfield lines of the Welsh. He receives the ball from the centre-back, who has driven forward into midfield before playing the ball to Adams. After checking his shoulder, Adams is able to turn and spot the run of Yedlin down the Welsh left side. The midfielder is able to play a great ball into the path of the fullback, allowing the US’ attacking chances to develop.
The midfielder even dropped into the defence at times to get on the ball and influence the play. In the phase of play above, Adams has dropped into the right back position left vacant by the forward run of Sergiño Dest. Dropping this deep allowed the American midfielder to get on the ball with no pressure from the opposition, which allowed him the time to pick his pass. As a result, Adams was able to play the ball over the top of the Iran defence and into the path of Josh Sargent in the final third.
Adams’ tendency to drop into these deeper areas against Iran allowed him to play passes like this over the top, bypassing Iran’s lines and allowing the United States the ability to advance into the attacking third.
The role of Tyler Adams in starting the United States attacks from deeper lying positions, due to his positioning, scanning of the field, and overall quality distribution was key for the Americans throughout their FIFA World Cup stay.
Defensive work rate
It was not just with his distribution that Tyler Adams had a large impact on the United States at the World Cup. The 23-year-old also demonstrated his non-stop defensive work rate, with him being the most impactful US midfielder defensively as well. All in all, Adams won 82% of his attempted tackles, as well as 61% of his duels and 71% of his aerial duels.
The data viz above illustrates the defensive territory that Adams covered during the World Cup, with him being the main defensive powerhouse in the United States midfield. Adams was an all-around midfielder for the United States in this tournament, and the data viz is also able to demonstrate this by illustrating the amount of ground the American covered.
The only area of the pitch where no defensive actions occurred from Adams was the opposition’s penalty box, otherwise, he always found himself around wherever the opposition was in possession. Following are some examples of the defensive involvement the midfielder had in this World Cup.
The image above shows an example of the defensive work rate that Tyler Adams possessed throughout this World Cup. In the phase of play above from the United States’ group stage match against England, this is put on full display. Jude Bellingham is able to receive this pass from the England centre-back in plenty of vacant space in midfield, or so he thought.
Sitting in a deeper position to prevent the ball from finding the space between the midfield and defensive lines, Adams had the decision to make. He decided to move forward and engage Bellingham, almost instantly closing down the space that the England midfielder was looking to drive into.
As a result, Adams dispossesses him, winning possession back for the United States and allowing them the potential to hit England on a counterattack. Due to the recognition of Adams to notice the space that the receiver had to drive into, his ability to close down the space and win possession back was vital to stopping a potentially dangerous England attack.
The image above shows another good example of the ground that Adams covered throughout this World Cup, as well as his recognition to cover vacant space that the opposition are looking to play into. In the phase of play above, the ball is in possession of England and Manchester United fullback Luke Shaw. With space in midfield, one of the England midfielders attempts to move into it, as is just barely shown in the image.
Noticing this, Adams is able to quickly cover the space left vacant by his teammates who are caught out. As Shaw attempts to play the pass over the top and into the path of the runner, Adams reads this and intercepts the pass, once again preventing a potentially dangerous attacking move from England.
The final example for this section again shows the defensive capabilities and recognition of surrounding dangers from Adams, this time inside his own penalty box. In this phase of play above, Iran are in possession just inside the US’ penalty box, with the Iran wide player looking to play the ball back centrally to a teammate. Adams has dropped back into the box to help defend against this attack, and he again finds himself in the perfect position.
As the ball is played back centrally, Adams is able to jump in front of the onrushing Iran attacker, sending the ball back to where it came from. Because he was not able to fully clear the danger, the United States were still at risk defensively. However, the American midfielder is able to stop the danger again, stepping out and putting in a great tackle to win the ball again, this time subsequently clearing away the danger.
As this section has illustrated, Tyler Adams was also a defensive lynchpin for the United States throughout the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Whether it was his ability in the tackle, recoveries, covering of space, or defensive positioning, the young midfielder starred from a defensive standpoint as well for this young United States squad.
As this scout report and tactical analysis has shown, Tyler Adams was one of the stars of the World Cup for the United States. While he did not score any goals or get any assists, his contributions on both the offensive and defensive side of the game were crucial to the United States’ tactics, as well as advancing out of the group stages and into the knockout rounds. He was named MOTM in the first two group games for the US, and big clubs all around Europe will have likely taken a greater interest in the Leeds United midfielder.