The #USMNT wants to change the way the world views American soccer. What better way to do that than beat England in the World Cup?.
The USMNT has a chance to do this on Friday when it takes on England at Al Rayyan Stadium in its second group stage match (2 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports App).
Gregg Berhalters group is fearless and ambitious. It has undeniable swagger and confidence. Much has been said and written about them being the second-youngest team in this tournament (Ghana is a smidge younger) and how only one player — defender DeAndre Yedlin — has previous World Cup experience. Now that theyve gotten one game under their belt — a 1-1 draw against Wales earlier this week — the Americans have a whopper for Game 2, against big, bad England.
"I think its obviously a huge opportunity to fast track the impact that we can have," Adams said. "These are the high pressure, [high] privilege moments to step on the field against some of these guys. We respect them – its probably mutual respect between both teams. When you get a result in a game like this, you know, people start to respect Americans a little bit more."
Added star winger Christian Pulisic: "We have to prove ourselves. We haven’t been maybe at the level of some of these world powerhouses in recent decades — but we’ve had good teams with a lot of heart in us. But I think if we can take it to that next step with a successful World Cup, that could change a lot of things."
In Mondays tournament opener against Wales, Berhalters starting lineup included 10 players who play in Europe. Only center back Walker Zimmerman, of Nashville SC, plays in MLS. Though he hasnt ruled out playing overseas some day.
The English Premier League, where Adams plays for Leeds United, has been incredibly popular in the States for the last 15-20 years. Its fascinated and influenced young players, especially of this generation, who have grown comfortable leaving their homes in America as teenagers with big plans of playing for top European sides. Many have done just that, with Pulisic being the lone player who has actually played and won a Champions League final.
Adams grew up in New York and played for the Red Bulls academy before later joining RB Leipzig of the Bundesliga, where he became the first USMNT player to score in a UEFA Champions League quarterfinal. After three-and-a-half years in Germany, he joined Leeds United in July 2022, where he plays alongside U.S. teammate Brenden Aaronson.
Adams said Thursday that he grew up watching and admiring Theirry Henry play for Red Bulls and Arsenal. It was easy for him to tune into Premier League matches on Saturday mornings and dream about doing that some day.
"I remember telling my mom at a young age that I wanted to play in England," Adams said. "There will always be something special about the Premier League. There always has been and I think there always will be."
Added Berhalter, who played for Crystal Palace in the early 2000s: "Everyone now in America seems to have a [Premier League] team they support. Its an incredible leap. Were really proud to have our players playing in that league and to me, its similar to the NFL in terms of how dominant it is and how commercial oriented it is."
Having so many Americans overseas helps with the familiarity of World Cup opponents and gives each team little advantages here and there. Japan, one of the Cinderellas of this tournament, upset Germany 2-1 with eight guys who play in the Bundesliga. The U.S. has six players in the EPL — will that make a difference against England?
"I dont think it makes it predictable by any means," Adams said. "Youre going to play against many quality players no matter how many times youve played against them before. Theyre going to be able to adapt to the game and to what youre doing and figure out solutions.