USMNT: Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie now making hay

Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie both featured heavily for their respective teams in Bundesliga action this week. The USMNT pair are now starting to make hay in their careers.

U.S. Men’s National Team players are now competing in some of the best leagues in world football. And unlike in previous years when Jozy Altidore was the laughing stock of the Premier League or Brad Friedel was ‘just a goalkeeper’ or Clint Dempsey only ever flourished for a lesser team, they are actually competing. And sometimes, excelling.

The is most noticeable in the Bundesliga. In recent seasons, American have flocked to the German league in search of regular playing time in a high-level European league. And for the most part, they have enjoyed success.

The latest to star in the division are two central midfielders, Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie. The pair, both in their young 20s and only just embarking on their senior careers, have worked hard for their opportunities. McKennie has earned his place in the heart of the Schalke team under David Wagner, while Adams endured periods at right-back and right wing-back, both domestically and for the USMNT, before he got his chance to star in midfield, his self-professed favoured and best position.

And since the Bundesliga restarted a month ago, both have begun to make hay on their careers, showing genuine and significant progress. There has been growth on an individual level. Adams is more comfortable and progressive in possession. McKennie is scoring goals and has stepped up as a leading presence in the Schalke dressing room. But there has also been growth regarding their standing in the squad. McKennie is a key player under Wagner; Adams, meanwhile, is a central midfielder, not a wing-back.

These are two young USMNT starters beginning to make a real impression on one of the top leagues in the world.

McKennie, especially, has stood out in a struggling Schalke team. He was named captain following the George Floyd murder and wrote ‘Enough is enough’ on his armband. He has scored twice since the restart and now has three goals since the turn of the year. Schalke as a team have scored just eight goals. Whether he is suited to the defensive midfield role Wagner has sometimes used him in is debatable. McKennie seems to be at his most comfortable when he has the freedom to break forward. Nevertheless, he is one of the key players at a club competing in a top-five European league.

Adams, meanwhile, has finally broken into his favoured position. He has featured in every match for RB Leipzig since the restart. His last four appearances have all come in midfield, two from off the bench, and he played the full 90 minutes against Fortuna Dusseldorf this week, again starting in defensive midfield.

Working under Julian Nagelsmann, a coach renowned for his tactical insight and development of young players, Adams is in the perfect place to flourish. And now that he is getting minutes in midfield, which was a concern previously, he is beginning to take the next step to becoming a key player in the team.

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The USMNT stars, then, are beginning to take Bundesliga by storm. And it all starts with Adams and McKennie making progress at their respective clubs. The future, it seems, is bright.

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