Charlie Adams is different to a lot of the Englishman currently playing in the United Soccer League, the second tier of football in America. Unlike most of them, he did not come through the country’s collegiate system, instead he progressed through Brentford’s academy, eventually playing for the first team in League One.
He had already experienced professional football before making his USL debut but saw the move abroad as the best alternative after leaving Brentford.
“I always wanted to play abroad,” says Adams. “I had a couple of offers from League Two but decided I wanted to play overseas as League Two football is so tough and is more about fighting than playing.”
The midfielder from Hendon had experienced both the National League and League Two during loan spells away from Griffin Park at Barnet and Stevenage respectively. He was part of the Brentford side who earned promotion to the Championship in 2014 but after four substitute appearances for the first team, he left the Bees to join Louisville City thanks to the help of his agent.
“My agent at the time was best friends with James O’Connor, the coach of Louisville. We spoke a few times and he watched me play when I was at loan at Stevenage. It sounded like a project and a team I wanted to be a part of.”
Adams agreed a two-year deal at the club who were about to undertake their inaugural season in the USL having only been formed a year earlier. The club also recruited another player from English football, former Tottenham Hotspur striker Cameron Lancaster.
The pair would ensure it was a successful debut season for Louisville as they made the Eastern Conference playoff final before narrowly losing out to Rochester Rhinos. The midfielder was pleased with the type of football in his new home as the differences from the style he had played in back in England became obvious.
“Teams do try to play out here and there is a big Hispanic/South American influence which I feels suits me. However, because there isn’t any relegation it can at times be less competitive.
“England is what we know it is, high intensity, direct play, second balls. It is very different.”
Although he made 21 appearances in the 2015 season, the former Brentford man picked up several injuries during the campaign and decided to cancel his contract at the end of the season to weigh up his options.
Whilst mulling over his choices, he was invited to train at one of his former sides which led to a return to English football but it wouldn’t be for long.
“Darren Sarll was the manager of Stevenage at the time and he had been my youth team manager,” he says. “He gave me the opportunity to come in and train at Stevenage to keep fit before I went out for the next season in the US.
“The right club didn’t materialise for me in January so I signed for the rest of the season – always with the intention of going back to the States.”
His return to Stevenage yielded just two appearances in League Two but it did provide him with some much needed training and match fitness which would prove crucial on his move back across the Atlantic. He signed for the USL affiliate club of Real Salt Lake, Real Monarchs, and hasn’t looked back since.
“After the English season I came back out here to Real Salt Lake on trial and signed with the Monarchs,” he says. “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here and I am very grateful of everyone at the club for giving me the opportunity to train and play at the amazing facility here in Utah.”
After joining midway through the 2016 season, Adams has made over 50 appearances in the past two seasons as his club won the regular season title after topping the Western Conference last year and are currently third in the table so far this season. This year has also seen Adams add goals to his game. Having scored just four senior league goals before this year, he has five already in 2018 and has been turning heads with his performances. With the Monarchs being an affiliate of a MLS side, his impressive form could lead to a shot at the big time.
“It’s tough being a foreigner but yes it is possible [to make the Real Salt Lake squad]. “There is a lot of quality now in MLS and the foreign players coming over now are top top players in the peak of their career.”
Football runs in the family for the Adams, with the 24-year-old’s father and brother having also played professionally. His goal now is to continue to follow in their footsteps.
“Of course I want to play at the highest level of football possible. Ultimately for me, it is to become as good as I can possibly be and learn as much as I can. As long as I do that, I will be happy.”