Off the PitchAug 21, 2018

Starting 11: First Season with Mo Adams

In Starting 11, we cover a specific player topic through a series of 11 questions answered directly by the players. At the mid-way point of the season, we're getting an inside look from first year players on what it's like to make the transition to the MLS. 

Mo Adams was born in Nottingham, England and started his soccer career in the youth clubs of Nottingham and Derby County. Adams went on to play in England's National League North before committing to come to the U.S. and play for Syracuse University where he was named team captain in his sophomore season. 

Adams went on to sign to play in the Premier Development League before signing a Generation adidas contract and being selected 10th overall by the Chicago Fire in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft. He made his MLS debut on April 21, and has made 14 appearances for the Fire this season. 

1. Where were you before coming into the MLS?

I spent my childhood in the academy system in England. I joined Nottingham Forest at the age of 10 and I was there for 6 years. I then signed a scholarship contract for Derby County and spent the next 2 years there.

My goal was always very clear -- to make it to Major League Soccer. I spent two amazing years at Syracuse University before signing a Generation Adidas contract to enter the 2018 MLS Superdraft.

2. What has surprised you the most about playing in the MLS?

I certainly expected the standard of soccer to be high, but I believe it’s higher than some people back home give it credit for. It’s a fantastic league that is definitely growing year after year.

3. What has been the biggest adjustment or change?

The travel has been the biggest adjustment. In England, you rarely fly for more than an hour. Even in college, nearly all the games we played were local to us on the East Coast. With Chicago, I may be in Vancouver one weekend and then down to Florida the next. The flights can be long at times, so I always like to keep myself busy by reading or catching up on some shows on Netflix.

4. When did you get your first official minutes and how did it feel to step on the field for the first time as an MLS Player?

I made my debut away against the New York Red Bulls in April. It was a surreal moment and its something I’ve built towards my whole life. There were a lot of nerves and emotions built up, but when the game started they all disappeared.

The game is moving so fast you almost forget what you’re feeling as you’re focused on keeping the opposition out and helping your teammates. I knew when the opportunity came I had to take it. I played the full 90 minutes and the team won 2-1. I received some really nice compliments afterwards, which was an added bonus.

 I think once you play those first few minutes it becomes a bit easier to settle into the group. You have a platform to build on and gain further momentum.

5. Were there MLS players that you looked up to growing up?

Absolutely, especially those of a more recent generation. Before I came to the US I saw what someone like Dom Dwyer was achieving, and in college it was impossible not to be inspired by Jack Harrison.

 I think that’s what links the three of us, and a lot of the English guys who come here. They sense an opportunity to prove yourself and earn an opportunity. Nothing is ever handed to you, in college or MLS, and it gives you an immense sense of pride in your accomplishments. I certainly don’t think I’ll be the last young English player to come over.

6. What do you do in your down time? Do you have any hobbies or personal projects?

Chicago is a great city, so there’s plenty to do especially because I live downtown. In my free time I usually meet up with a few teammates to walk around the city, go out for dinner or grab a coffee.

Other than that I always try and head down to the gym and get some extra work done. There’s obviously a lot of spare time, so I’ll be working hard towards completing my degree in Sport Management. I’ve always shown great interest in the business side of sport, so it’s definitely a field that I’d like to be involved in when I finish my career.

7. Do you have a mentor or someone you look to for support? If so, how has that helped you?

I think it’s important to have a strong and varied support structure as a player as it helps you make the best decisions. My parents have played a huge part in me getting here, and they continue to do so. We’re in contact pretty much every day and they follow what I do closely even though they’re in England. I then have my agent at Octagon, Mike Senkowski, who is always a good source of information.

 I think one of the best aspects of playing with the Fire has been the veteran influence. Whether it’s Dax, Bastian or Alan Gordon, I have hundreds of games worth of experience at my disposal. The fact they’re so willing to share that with me has been a major bonus in coming here.   

8. What has been the most exciting moment for you so far this first year?

Being able to compete against great players is something that really excites me. I’ve played against people I grew up watching like Sebastian Giovinco as well as some of the league’s best attackers. Being pitted against Miguel Almiron or Ignacio Piatti, is a huge test of my abilities and it feels like a long way from where I started in America.

 I look at some of the players I may still come up against this season, and in future seasons, and it motivates me to keep improving so my team can rely on me. My goals are so clear and that’s what makes putting in the hard work that much easier.

9. What is your favorite part of playing professionally?

It’s the whole experience. It’s travelling, working, playing in front of the big crowds and feeding off that energy. Most of all I love the competition I’m presented with. I’m battling for a starting spot against some of the best MLS has to offer and then I’m trying to stop the opposition attackers. I enjoy the process of being in a competitive environment and seeing hard work pay off.

10. What are your goals for the rest of this season and for your career?

I want to develop as a rookie and contribute as much as I can during this final stretch of the season. For me, soccer is a process, and it’s about becoming the best player you can be. You want to be pushed constantly and one of the greatest aspects of MLS has been the unique set of challenges it gives you.

11. Now that you have spent some time in the league, what advice would give to new guys coming in?

My advice to the rookies would be to come in and be ready to compete. Everything in the professional level is earned, not given. Be willing to stay after practice and put in the extra work, because when the opportunity comes you must be ready.

You can follow Mo on Twitter and Instagram