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Improved Tyler Adams answers questions after likely last season with New York Red Bulls

Nov 29, 2018; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls midfielder Tyler Adams (4) plays the ball against Atlanta United during the first half of the second leg of the MLS Eastern Conference Championship at Red Bull Arena. (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)

HARRISON, N.J. — Tyler Adams has heard the chatter. It’s been all around him this season.

And all of it had question marks on the end of it.

Can he excel in center midfield?

Is he going to Europe?

Can he succeed in Europe?

To the first question, Adams believes he answered that emphatically with his play on the field, both for the New York Red Bulls as well as with the U.S. men’s national team, where he’s become an established starter. 

“I think I improved a lot this season,” Adams said after the Red Bulls were eliminated by Atlanta United in the Eastern Conference finals Thursday night at Red Bull Arena. “I think at the beginning of the season there was talk about ‘Can he play center mid at the highest level?’ For me I played center mid my whole life so I was like, ‘of course I can play center mid’ and then to just to go out there this year and prove that I can be one of the best center mids in the league was important to me.”

To the second question, it’s a very likely yes, and might be one of the worst kept secrets in the league. Adams has long been rumored to be heading to Red Bull Leipzig where he would reunite with former coach Jesse Marsch.

Adams, himself, told The Athletic going to Europe after the MLS season was the right time.

But confirming the move in the Red Bulls locker room Thursday night was not.

“Obviously for me there’s been speculation the whole season about what will happen next,” Adams said. “I’m going to keep you guys waiting again so we’ll find out the next couple days hopefully.”

To the third question, clearly the book is out. But Red Bulls coach Chris Armas, arguably one of the greatest defensive midfielders in MLS history who has served as a mentor to Adams, has no doubts, comparing him to the face of the USMNT, Christian Pulisic at Borussia Dortmund.

“Tyler’s growth, we haven’t seen anything like this in this country,” Armas said. “Christian and Tyler Adams, those are the two guys in our national team that show a fearlessness quality, big personalities, humbleness, work ethic, maturity, courage.

“We’ve seen him grow with his maturity, with how he can take over games, how he can lead, a 19-year-old leading a team in many ways. We’ve seen his performances with the national team, how he’s a big presence in those games and a big energy … We’ve seen it on every level, his understanding, tactically in games, how to be more effective. So we’ve seen every box that you can check.”

So will that translate to Europe?

“For sure, because he has the physical ability,” Armas said. “He’s got the mentality for Europe. He keeps improving, and, his personality and the courage that he has, the approach, every single day to get better and win, it’s like I’ve never seen. I know certain players that play in Europe, and you see what he has, he’s going to do great.”

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