Tab Ramos on Tyler Adams: “I almost want to set the bar so high for him that he can’t reach it.” (Adam Hunger/USA TODAY Sports)

By Michael Lewis Editor

Tab Ramos has five words for Tyler Adams.

“He’s one of a kind,” he said.

And the U.S. Under-20 coach meant it in a very good way about the Red Bulls central midfielder whom he selected for the U.S. Under-20 national team that will compete at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Korea later this month.

The 5-9, 150-lb. Adams has worked his into the Red Bulls Starting XI and has impressed with his ability to cover ground and play aggressively against other Major League Soccer teams.

When asked about his expectations of the Wappingers Falls, N.Y. native in the U-20 competition during a late Tuesday afternoon conference call with the media, Ramos replied, “Very good question because it’s hard to say exactly what my expectations are because Tyler just keeps getting better and better. So, I almost want to set the bar so high for him that he can’t reach it. And that’s difficult to do with such a young player because he is one of the younger players here.”

Adams, who turned 18 on Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14), has made his mark this season. He has started seven out of 11 Red Bulls game and performed in 615 minutes after playing only one game and 45 minutes last year.

“Tyler’s physical ability to cover ground and mental strength are really amazing for a young player,” Ramos said, adding that he “certainly have not had and I don’t want to put players behind him, but he’s one of a kind and he’s certainly a very aggressive young player and one that we’re hoping will have a tremendous impact on the team.”

As well as he has performed, there certainly is room for improvement. Ramos, a former MetroStars standout, still lives in Holmdel, N.J. and takes in the Red Bulls a lot at Red Bull Arena when he is in town.

“Look, he’s a young player,” Ramos said. “What has been surprising from my end is that he has stepped into a team, into the middle of the field to play central midfield role with the Red Bulls. I probably know the Red Bulls better than other teams in the league and I’ve watched them the most. He has done a tremendous job just physically being able to play for a team that pressures high, that covers ground, that likes to have the ball, that likes to counter quickly. He’s fit right into their system and that’s impressive on the physical side for a young player.”

Then Ramos talked about what Adams specifically needs to get better at. Some of it comes with experience.

“Now, what does he have to improve on?” he said. “All these players have a lot of improving to do. Tyler needs to hold onto the ball better, he needs to distribute better. There’s a number of things he needs to improve on, but all that comes with time and comes with him adjusting to the speed of the game.”

So far, so good.

Front Row Soccer editor Michael Lewis has covered 13 World Cups (eight men, five women), seven Olympics and 25 MLS Cups. He has written about New York City FC, New York Cosmos, the New York Red Bulls and both U.S. national teams for Newsday and has penned a soccer history column for the Lewis, who has been honored by the Press Club of Long Island and National Soccer Coaches Association of America, is the former editor of He has written seven books about the beautiful game and has published ALIVE AND KICKING The incredible but true story of the Rochester Lancers. It is available at