The Chicago Fire have had five rookies combine for more than 1,000 minutes in the first seven matches of 2018. Mo Adams was the last of that group to get his chance.
The Fire traded with Real Salt Lake to acquired the No. 10 pick in the draft and used it on Adams, an English midfielder who played collegiately at Syracuse. Adams seemed to impress during preseason, but didn’t see the field for the first five matches of the regular season.
He made his MLS debut, and his first start, April 21 on the road against the New York Red Bulls. He played the full 90 minutes in a 2-1 win. He also went the distance in a 2-2 draw at defending champions Toronto FC the following week.
“It’s something I’ve been working on since preseason, to finally get an opportunity and to get it and to go away to Red Bull and get a win there is something that looks good and it’s pleasing,” Adams said. “It shows that my hard work has been noticed and paid off for sure.”
The rookie took Tony Tchani’s starting spot in both matches. Adams’ energetic, physical style was a good fit against a pressing opponent in the Red Bulls.
Fire coach Veljko Paunovic then stuck with the same starting lineup in Toronto after getting the win in Red Bull Arena. Could that mean more starts are to come for Adams?
“I think I bring energy and competitiveness to the field and try to dominate my position,” Adams said. “I think the progressive style of play is something we needed in midfield for sure.”
Adams featured regularly in the preseason and it appeared he would be in line for playing time, even with Bastian Schweinsteiger and Dax McCarty also in central midfield. Then the Fire traded for Tchani less than two weeks before the season opener. Tchani started the first five matches.
Paunovic pointed out that injuries during the Fire’s preseason required Adams and the rest of the team’s rookies to play more. That still holds true with a number of regulars out.
“That actually exhausted a lot [of] our rookies, because they had to play a lot of games that weren’t meant for them,” Paunovic said. “They’re still learning. That’s why some of them, they didn’t have a start right away.”
Paunovic included Adams in this group, but did praise his play so far.
“His character, his work rate and what he brings defensively for our team, the aggressiveness, being very good in winning second balls,” Paunovic said. “That was something that raised our performance.”