At different points throughout their young careers, midfielders Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie and Christian Pulisic would find themselves together at Youth National Team camps, playing with and against each other as they began to carve out the individual paths that lay ahead.
While all three were promising prospects, it was Pulisic who rose to acclaim first, making his debuts with Borussia Dortmund and the U.S. Men’s National Team as a 17-year-old in 2016. Having grabbed attention with their respective clubs New York Red Bulls and Schalke, Adams and McKennie followed suit, arriving on the MNT scene this time last year during the team’s 1-1 draw against Portugal.
All three are now firmly in the senior team picture, but due to a variety of circumstances this week’s camp in England is the first time the trio is together in camp with the MNT. With that, the much-anticipated prospect of seeing all three on the field at the same time is a possibility for the matches ahead against England and Italy.
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It’s something the players themselves are eager for as well.
“I think it’ll be interesting,” 20-year-old McKennie told ussoccer.com this week. “You can have all the hype, but to have the moment where we could possibly play together finally here, that’s exciting for me. I think it’s exciting for all of us.”
“It’s going to feel like picking up where we left off,” Pulisic, also 20, said. “I’m really excited to work with them at the senior level.”
“It’s a pretty special moment,” the 19-year-old Adams added. “I look at it as more of an opportunity because when you have such good friends off the field, it can correlate to playing well on the field.”
Most familiar with each other from their time spent at U.S. Soccer’s U-17 MNT Residency Program in Bradenton, Fla., the three say similar things when talking about each other’s traits.
When speaking about Pulisic, Adams and McKennie can’t go far without dropping some form of the words “Creative, clinical and confident.”
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Pulisic returns that praise by calling Adams and McKennie, “Two of the grittiest players I’ve ever seen.”
The way they see each other’s qualities seems likely to translate to how they could line up with the MNT: Pulisic as the creative attacking force, with Adams and McKennie grinding, winning balls and connecting in behind him.
Still, it’s been a few years since they played together, and with that there’s an admission that there may be a learning curve.
- WATCH - RISING: Christian Pulisic
“I don’t know what it’s going to look like,” McKennie said, “but that’s what these games are about. Hopefully it looks good and helps out the team a lot if we happen to be on the same field at the same time.”
“We’ve all gone on to do our own things and it’s worked out well in respective ways,” added Adams. “I think a lot of the traits that we have will be able to complement each other well. Now it’s about learning the tactics and seeing how we all fit into it. In the end, you have people you want to play with, people you like being around and I think it will help us progress forward with a lot of the young guys we have around us as well.”