WAPPINGERS FALLS, N.Y. — The United States may be out of the World Cup, but the team’s elimination on Saturday did little to dim the pride for the team’s captain, Tyler Adams, in his Hudson Valley hometown.
Adams, 23, is one of the youngest players to be captain of the U.S. men’s national team, and his play in Qatar had captured the attention of those around his hometown, Wappinger, between Poughkeepsie and Fishkill, near the banks of the Hudson River.
At the County Fare Bar & Grill on Saturday morning, it seemed that nearly half the town showed up to cheer for Adams. That included Matt Ball and Joseph Cavaccini, who had grown up with the soccer star and his brothers, as well as a bus driver known to boast over her loudspeaker that Adams had graduated from nearby Roy C. Ketcham High School.
Family friends, former schoolmates and neighbors recalled Adams as a driven young man who regularly missed social and school functions — including his own graduation ceremony — because of sports commitments.
Adams worked hard, Cavaccini said using, more colorful terms. “That’s why it’s not a surprise. It’s just pride — we are just so proud,” he said.
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Proud too was Ball, who had just returned from visiting Adams overseas. He briefly considered flying to Qatar to support his friend but was deterred by the five-figure travel costs.
Instead, Ball and several dozen others had gathered at the local pub before the 10 a.m. kickoff. The bar’s owner, Dana Tompkins, opened early to show the game.
Fans remained engaged even though the Netherlands led throughout much of the game, erupting in whistles, jeers and shouts every time the U.S. team got into the goal box.
“They gave it their all,” said Steve Luciano, who dug out an American flag T-shirt for the occasion.
By his own account, Adams grew up in the nearby city of Poughkeepsie, where he and his mother shared a small, two-bedroom apartment. He has spoken of the formative power of those early years — keeping his mother company at the library after she had worked a full shift, waking up early to watch his hero Thierry Henry play for Arsenal while he nursed professional soccer dreams of his own.
Later, the family relocated to the town of Wappinger and Adams’s mother remarried — transforming Adams from an only child to the eldest of four brothers in a family that shared a love of soccer.
At 16 Adams made his debut with the New York Red Bulls soccer club. This July, he joined Leeds United of the English Premier League, commanding a transfer fee of $24 million.
During the World Cup, Adams mentioned his upbringing in a multiracial family and his time in Britain when asked by an Iranian journalist about racism in the United States — a question that was framed with criticism for how Adams had pronounced “Iran.”
“I grew up in a white family with obviously an African American heritage and background as well,” Adams said. “So I had a little bit of different cultures and I was very easily able to assimilate in different cultures. Not everyone has that ease and the ability to do that, and obviously it takes longer to understand, and through education I think it’s super important — like you just educated me now on the pronunciation of your country.”
Adams said he believed the United States was “continuing to make progress” on racism.
His friends back home will have to wait before they can show Adams support once more on the world stage, with the U.S. team out of the tournament after its 3-1 loss.
Ball is already looking forward to the 2026 World Cup, which he notes, will be held in North America.
“We’ll be back!” he said.