mo adams rbny

Q&A | Mo Adams talks through his professional debut against the New York Red Bulls

2018 MLS SuperDraft pick Mo Adams made his professional debut in Saturday's 2-1 win away at the New York Red Bulls, starting from the outset as part of head coach Veljko Paunovic's first 11.

In a 90-minute shift, the 21-year-old helped clog up the Red Bulls midfield alongside Dax McCarty with a defensive performance that drew praise from teammates and analysts alike. Having had a few days to reflect on the moment, Adams took some time Tuesday afternoon to rehash his debut experience with How aware were you that you were going to get the start in New York in the week leading up to the match?

Mo Adams: “I didn’t really know that I was going to start. I had a good week of practice, so I was kind of waiting patiently but working hard at the same time. On Friday before we travelled I was in the starting team (at training). We were going over set pieces and the style of play and how we can counter them and stuff like that, so that’s when I kind of knew. I had an idea that I would be in the 11, but then the morning of the game, (Paunovic) said ‘You’re starting today,’ so I was thrilled.” What's running through your mind then at that moment?

MA: “Amazing feeling. It’s something you’ve worked for your whole life, to make your professional debut. For it to be against the Red Bulls away from home in a setup like that, to come out with a victory is something special for sure.” Who did you tell first?

MA: “I texted my parents first and foremost. I texted my agent, school coach, and stuff like that. They were all thrilled and they tried to watch the game, so that was very good. Good moment for sure.” Matchday comes, you take the field, and the whistle blows: What are you feeling?

MA: “That moment, there’s always some nerves building up, but once the referee blows the whistle they all just disappear and you forget about the crowd. It’s just you against your opponent. For us, it was just to go out and try to dominate them from start to finish and come out with a victory. I thought we did very well. I thought we did the game plan perfectly, exactly what we’d worked on. Try to hit them on the counter and that’s how we scored our second goal for the penalty -- won the ball in the midfield, long ball, and just break them like that. It was very good.” How would you assess your individual performance?

MA: “I thought I did good. I think I could do better. I think I matched them in the midfield, but I think my ball retention maybe could have been a little bit better. In terms of recoveries and tackles and stuff like that, I put a good shift in, but I think there’s still more to come.” What's your response to the general praise you received for the outing?

MA: “For me, I just go out there and compete. I want to make life difficult for my opponent. I don’t want to give them any space to breathe or even to try and play. I knew that (Red Bulls midfielder) Kaku was their No. 10. Pauno said to me to try and keep him quiet. He came off after 70 minutes and (Fire forward Nemanja Nikolic) just gave me a little wink to say you did your job. I was focused on him, but at the same time it was trying to know your positioning on the field -- whether Dax steps and I drop in behind him or vice versa. I think, like I said, the game plan worked pretty well.” How do you take that adrenaline from your debut and use it then moving forward?

MA: “You don’t forget your first one obviously. I think the experience helped me for sure. Right now I know what to expect going into it. I really feel more confident. It’s a crazy thing what confidence can do to you. Definitely looking forward to hopefully more to come.”

Adams and the Fire are back in action this Saturday against reigning MLS Cup champion Toronto FC (2 p.m. CT, ESPN+) and return home the following weekend for a tilt with Atlanta United FC on May 5 (7:30 p.m. CT, ESPN+ | TICKETS).