Tyler Adams: “I think that coming into last camp, maybe we were just a little bit naïve, and we didn’t really know what to expect.” (Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
When this new generation of U.S. men’s national team players start their second batch of World Cup qualifiers against Jamaica Thursday, they will be older and wiser to the way of Concacaf matches.
Well, it will only be a month wiser, but the team’s 1-0-2 record and five points from the opening their matches certainly was a learning experience and a half.
Sixteen players made their World Cup qualifying debut in September.
“I think that coming into last camp, maybe we were just a little bit naïve, and we didn’t really know what to expect,” midfielder Tyler Adams said during a Monday conference call for Thursday night’s WCQ against Jamaica in Austin, Texas. “That’s why we had to use those first three games as a learning process. You can tell that the group is focused, and we know what our ambitions are.”
The Americans finished the opening three games of their 14-match journey in the Concacaf Octagonal undefeated at 1-0-3 and five points. Many observers and experts thought the USA would register seven out of a possible nine points.
A former Red Bulls midfielder, Adams said the team has learned to focus at one game at a time, instead of looking at the three games in seven days scenario.
“Last camp was obviously a great experience for us all,” Adams said. “A lot of us it was our first taste of what World Cup qualifying was going to be like. For us. the most important thing coming into this camp now is to take each and every game by game, not focus on saying okay, ‘Let’s get nine points.’ I mean I remember even myself I previously said, ‘Let’s get nine points in the window.’ Let’s focus on each game and what we need to do in order to win each game. I think that’s going to set us up for the for the best success.”
Adams knows what he needs to focus on, getting the ball more efficiently to the team’s front runners.
“From a personal perspective I just need to try and get the ball in areas where I’m able to break lines more effectively and just get the guys in an attacking position to the ball more often,” he said. “I think that the last camp we had a tendency for our attacking players to come a little bit deeper and try to find the ball.
“To be honest, that’s completely normal for attacking players when they don’t feel like they can get the ball. Then they have to come back and get the ball. So, if we’re just a little bit more efficient, and we’re able to get them the ball in better positions. I think that’s going to have a big effect on the team putting them in more dangerous spots.”