HARRISON, N.J. — They were two announcements that took no one in American soccer circles by surprise.
Both moves were rumored for several months, thus the lack of fanfare or shock value, but in many ways the two announcements are importantly linked.
In the last two years Adams has become one of the top defensive midfielders in Major League Soccer and this year established himself on the international level, earning his first nine caps for the USMNT, scoring his first goal in a 1-0 win over Mexico on Sept. 11.
Berhalter, too, established himself as one of America’s brightest young coaches in his five years with Columbus Crew SC. His teams played beautiful soccer, he got the best out of his strikers and got consistent results.
While Adams spent the last five months studying Leipzig and the Bundesliga while trying to learn German, Berhalter watched guys like Adams, Timothy Weah, Weston McKennie and Crew SC captain Wil Trapp earn valuable international experience under then-interim coach Dave Sarachan.
In a few of those camps, Adams and Trapp, who usually share the midfield together, have joked about when Berhalter would be announced as the USMNT coach.
“We had the opportunity to just play against them and know his tactics and how they play,” Adams said of the Red Bulls beating Crew SC in the Eastern Conference semifinals. “And I think it’ll be fun to be integrated into that and hopefully establish myself underneath a coach like him.”
Aaron Long is another player who got his first taste of playing for the USMNT in a breakthrough 2018 season. The MLS Defender of the Year was called into camp three times and made his debut in a 1-1 draw against Peru in October before earning his second cap in a 1-0 loss to Italy in Belgium late last month.
“He’s a great coach and I’ve heard nothing but great things about him so super happy that he got the job,” Long said. “I think he’s one of the more respected coaches around the league in terms of tactics and style of play and I know guys who have played for him speak extremely highly of him. I’m looking forward to hopefully getting a chance to work with him because I’ve heard so many good things.”