YuSA captain Tyler Adams was a 13-year-old at the New York Red Bulls academy in 2012 when NBC became the exclusive owner of American media rights to the English Premier League in a deal that has since been credited with propelling soccer to new heights of popularity in the US.
Until then, almost all Premier League matches were carried on Fox Soccer, a pay channel buried deep in cable listings, inevitably limiting the sport’s mainstream reach. NBC deal for both English and Spanish media rights to all 380 Premier League matches – for a then-bargaining fee of $250 million over three years has since been renewed for $2.7 billion over the next six – American Football . A sports sky like never before by making matches available on both free-to-air TV and the NBC family of cable networks.
“Growing up, the Premier League was always a dream,” Adams said Thursday. “I grew up a huge fan of Thierry Henry, partly because he played for New York Red Bulls, but also because I watched a lot of Arsenal games too. I admired him, how he played the game. I think in America, you see a lot of young players competing in a lot of Premier League games. Excellent. They’re in the morning, easy to find.”
When the United States takes on England in a stellar team game on Friday night at Home Stadium, they will be facing virtually one of the reasons why the sport is so high back home. For 23-year-old Adams, the reach and widespread accessibility of the Premier League fueled a dream instilled when he joined the New York Red Bulls during Henry’s four-year tenure in Major League Soccer.
Having established a reputation as a ball-winning defensive midfielder, Adams moved to NYRB’s sister club RB Leipzig in 2019, making his biggest success with a shot on goal that lifted the Bundesliga club to the semi-finals of the Champions League. When he arrived at Leeds United in a $24.2m (£20m) transfer this summer, he fulfilled a lifelong dream that not even his success in Germany could match.
“The Bundesliga wasn’t the biggest thing for me when I was young,” he said. “I saw a lot of great players on the field at the same time [in the Premier League]regardless of which teams were playing.
“I remember telling my mum at a young age that I wanted to play in England. The culture isn’t too far off from what America has to offer, so it was definitely a much easier transition than playing in Germany. But there’s just something special about the Premier League. It’s always been there and I think it’s There will always be.”
US coach Greg Berhalter, who on Monday became the first person to play for and manage an American team in the World Cup, came of age at a time when it was impossible to find Premier League matches on US television. It was only when he was in the Netherlands during the 1990s at the start of his 15-year football career in Europe that he was exposed to the Premier League on a regular basis.
“I remember when I was in Holland when I was coming home from my matches on Saturday watching Match of the Day on the BBC and that was the real highlight I had,” Berhalter said. “And now, every Saturday morning in America, I get up to watch the Premier League and see all the fan-fests they put on. It seems like everyone in America now has a team to support.
“It’s a great league. We’re really proud to have our players play in this league. And to me, it’s similar to the NFL in how dominant it is and how commercially oriented it is.”
Adams, the youngest captain of Qatar’s 32 teams by some distance, is also the youngest player to captain an American team at a World Cup since Walter Bahr in 1950 – a tournament in which the Americans famously bucked the odds. With a 1-0 win over England in Belo Horizonte.
With the United States rebuilding from the wreckage of their disastrous failure to qualify for the World Cup four years ago, Adams has made no secret of this group’s goal of changing the way the world views American soccer. An inspiring performance in Friday’s game on the northeast coast of Qatar could go a long way to achieving that.
“It’s clearly a huge opportunity to accelerate the impact that can be made,” Adams said. “These are the games where pressure is a privilege to get on the court against some of these guys. We respect them. There’s probably a mutual respect between the two teams. And when you get a score in a game like this, people start to respect Americans a little bit more.”