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‘A huge part of our culture.’ USMNT lauds Tyler Adams’ return

After suffering a hamstring injury bad enough to require surgery a year ago, after a setback that necessitated a second procedure last fall to correct the problem, and after more than 15 months away from the U.S. squad that he captained with distinction at the 2022 World Cup, Tyler Adams is back with the national team.

Probably earlier than most USMNT fans expected.

Adams just returned to full training with Bournemouth of England’s Premier League earlier this month. But he had yet to play a single minute for the Cherries in the Prem before U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter named the heart-and-soul defensive midfielder to his squad for the Concacaf Nations League finals, which begin with Thursday’s semifinal against Jamaica in Arlington, Texas.

Not long ago, some were wondering if Adams would be able to ever fully recover from what can be a notoriously temperamental aliment. The 25-year-old wasn’t among them.

“There was never a doubt in my mind,” Adams, asked by FOX Sports if he ever doubted this day would eventually come, told reporters Monday on a Zoom call from the team hotel in suburban Dallas. “I’ve been continuously working nonstop in the past months to make sure that this time would come. I’m not sure if anyone thought it would come this soon, but I was continuously just pushing myself and making sure that I was hitting my objectives in a smart way, not rushing the process, making sure I was hitting all my benchmarks.

“Now here I am.”

His U.S. teammates and coaches couldn’t be happier. “Ty was obviously a huge part of this team, a huge part of our culture,” goalkeeper Matt Turner said. “He’s a true leader on the pitch and off the pitch.”

“I think everybody from top to bottom is excited to have him back,” added U.S. assistant coach B.J. Callaghan.

Such is Adams’ importance to the locker room that Berhalter considered bringing him in for this camp, which will conclude on Sunday with either the final or third place game versus Mexico or Panama, even if he wasn’t ready to take the field.

“I was talking to Greg all along, and we were deciding whether I would just come into camp and be around the guys and continue my fitness and training, or if I felt I could play a role in an active roster,” Adams said. “And if anybody asks me, of course I want to play a role and be on the active roster.”

That doesn’t necessarily mean that Adams will be in Berhalter’s starting 11 in either match. He played 28 minutes off the bench last week for Bournemouth, his first league appearance since last March. It will take time for him to be fit enough to last from the opening whistle to the final one as he did in all four U.S. games at Qatar 2022. Turner and defender Tim Ream were the only other Americans to  go the distance in every World Cup match.

“I know I can contribute 45 to 60 minutes,” Adams said. That could mean a role helping close out one or both games this month rather than playing from the beginning. 

Some U.S. supporters would’ve rather had Adams stay behind in England this month and prepare of this summer’s Copa América. But for him, this easily beats cheering on the USMNT from afar.

“Not being a part of any game, obviously I struggled with that,” he said. “I’m a competitor. I want to be able to support my teammates in whatever role it is. I know the influence I can have as a leader just through communicating with guys and just being around the team as [opposed] to being away from them.”

Doug McIntyre is a soccer writer for FOX Sports. Before joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a staff writer with ESPN and Yahoo Sports and he has covered United States men’s and women’s national teams at multiple FIFA World Cups. Follow him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.

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CONCACAF Nations League

CONCACAF Nations League

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