Tyler Adams' 88th-minute goal -- it sent RB Leipzig, a club that was founded 11 years ago, to the Champions League semifinals for the first time in club history. More importantly, Adams' first goal in a Leipzig uniform might have been the most important goal of his career and arguably the most important goal scored by an American in the grandest stage in Europe.-- sent shock waves across Europe and North America. Partially because
Let's check the list of Americans who have scored in the Champions League knockout stage:
- 2004-05 round of 16: PSV Eindhoven star DaMarcus Beasley scored in a 2-0 win over Monaco.
- 2012-13 round of 16: Schalke were saved by Jermaine Jones in the first leg, who scored the equalizer against Galatasaray in a 1-1 draw.
- 2016-17 round of 16: Former Dortmund prodigy and current Chelsea star Christian Pulisic scored his first Champions League goal in a 4-0 victory over Benfica in the round of 16. He became Dortmund's youngest scorer in UCL at the age of 18.
- 2019-20 quarterfinals: RB Leipzig youngster Tyler Adams helps his club punch a ticket to the semifinals.
That's it. That's the list. Adams, 21, became the first American to score this late in the tournament.
And to think, Adams didn't even win the Man of the Match Award. That honor went to Dayot Upamecano, who also played the game of his life and kept Atletico in check and also posed a threat on the flanks in the 2-1 win for Leipzig. Adams was just an unlikely hero at the end of a nervy match who came through as a late sub in the 72nd minute for Julian Nagelsmann, who at 33 is the youngest manager to reach a Champions League semi.
Adams spoke to CBS Sports' Roger Gonzalez on Wednesday and. He wasn't kidding.
"These are teams that, when they have a bad day, maybe you get away with a goal but it is not often a team like Man City and Real Madrid have two bad games in a row. For us to be a young team with a fearless mentality, it is all or nothing, Adams said.
"It's refreshing. Now we are ready to hit Champions League full swing. It's a new experience for us all. I'd say we are really prepared now."
Here's what Adams said after the match on CBS All Access:
To put his goal into further perspective, let's check the list of Americans who have scored in the Champions League (including qualifying and the European Cup era):
- DaMarcus Beasley (PSV Eindhoven, Rangers): 6 goals
- Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht): 3 goals
- Brian Gerzicich (Hapoel Kiryat Shmona): 2 goals
- Fabian Johnson (Wolfsburg, Monchengladbach): 2 goals
- Jermaine Jones (Leverkusen, Schalke): 2 goals
- Christian Pulisic (Dortmund, Chelsea): 3 goals
- Jovan Kirovski (Dortmund): 1 goal
- Maurice Edu (Rangers): 1 goal
- Weston Mckennie (Schalke): 1 goal
- Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig): 1 goal
It's not a lengthy list, which makes this moment incredibly special if you are a fan of the U.S. men's national team. Our CBS Sports HQ colleague Beasley sits at the top of the mountain for now. And Beasley, who has been to the semifinal before as a member of PSV Eindhoven in 2005, warned us about Leipzig during the pre-match build-up:
Still, it's safe to say no other goal on that list comes with higher stakes than Adams' deflected shot with two minutes to spare on Thursday. The only goal that comes close to mind is from Clint Dempsey during his Europa League heyday with Fulham.
Leipzig are the first German side other than Bayern Munich () or Borussia Dortmund to reach the Champions League semis since Schalke in 2010-11. The club was founded in 2009 (with the help of energy drink giants Red Bull, of course), promoted to the fourth division in 2010 and by 2016, it was promoted to Bundesliga. In their maiden Bundelisga season, Leipzig finished second behind Bayern.
"It feels like a historic moment for Americans in club football and on this elite stage of the Champions League," Kate Abdo said on the Champions League Today post-match show on CBS All Access.
Jamie Carragher called it "inspiring," Adams' rise from upstate New York to Lisbon in the semis. Adams went from joining the New York Red Bulls training academy at the age of 11 back in 2011 before making his pro debut for New York Red Bulls II of the United Soccer League in April of 2015 at the age of 16. The following year he joined the senior team in Major League Soccer at the age of 17 before signing with Leipzig at the age of 20 in 2019. He's made 16 appearances for Leipzig this season, and while the team hasn't lost a game he's played in since the restart in June, they've won just one out of the six matches he's started.
You have to figure the playing time will come if he continues to have a knack for scoring in big games.