What you may not know is that if Pulisic begins a recreation within the German Bundesliga this week, he gained’t be the one 19-year-old American to take action. It’s time to familiarize your self with FC Schalke teen Weston McKennie.
McKennie has damaged into Schalke’s first group this season. And after a few Bundesliga substitute appearances and a begin within the German Cup, the Texas native was named in Schalke’s beginning 11 for Tuesday’s conflict with German giants Bayern Munich.
So who’s the different American teenager making an affect on the highest degree of German soccer?
He’s a well-rounded central midfielder, clear on the ball for his age. At this stage in his profession, he’s extra holding midfielder than playmaker, however has box-to-box potential. He’s 6-foot-1, athletic, and may maintain up bodily even in opposition to strong opponents. High Drawer Soccer put collectively this quick scouting tape final 12 months:
McKennie was born in Little Elm, Texas, precisely three weeks earlier than Pulisic was born in Hershey, Pennsylvania. McKennie lived in Germany for roughly three years as a baby, between the ages of 6 and 9, however returned to the U.S. and joined FC Dallas’ academy.
He developed in FC Dallas youth groups, in addition to in U.S. youth nationwide groups, the place he performed alongside Pulisic. Paradoxically, the 2 now discover themselves on reverse sides of a heated Bundesliga rivalry, however they’ve been associates since they met as 14-year-olds with U.S. youth nationwide sides.
Regardless of FC Dallas’ makes an attempt to lock him in to a contract and promote him to the membership’s senior squad, McKennie made the soar abroad in August of 2016, simply over 12 months in the past. He signed with Schalke two days after his 18th birthday.
MLS commissioner Don Garber admitted his disappointment at not having the ability to preserve McKennie within the U.S.’s home league. “That one harm,” Garber advised Sports activities Illustrated. “We had loads of forces that we had been working in opposition to on signing that participant, and that’s the truth of how troublesome it’s with a participant pool on the youth degree that continues to draw the eye of very, very aggressive and well-funded worldwide groups. That one harm.”
McKennie started with the under-19s at Schalke, alongside fellow American Haji Wright. Each rapidly labored their method as much as the senior squad. However whereas Wright has been despatched out on mortgage to second-division Sandhausen, McKennie started the 2017-18 season with Schalke’s first group.
He began and performed 54 minutes in a DFB Pokal win earlier than the Bundesliga season kicked off. He then got here off the bench to assist see out a 2-0 win over RB Leipzig on the season’s opening weekend. Three weeks later, he performed an identical substitute position in a 3-1 win over Stuttgart.
Tuesday, he acquired his likelihood to start out on the most important of Bundesliga levels, at residence in opposition to the five-time reigning champions. He lined up as certainly one of two central midfielders in a 5-4-1.
Schalke was extraordinarily poor as a unit, and, by no fault of McKennie, went down 2-0 inside the first half-hour. McKennie’s efficiency was unremarkable however strong. He gained a couple of challenges and misplaced a couple of. He was tidy in possession. It was his midfield colleagues who time after time misplaced the ball in Schalke’s personal defensive third and offered Bayern with probabilities.
McKennie was changed after 57 minutes, with Schalke supervisor Domenico Tedesco opting to deliver on a second striker and likelihood the group’s form. Total, it was a passable full debut for the younger American.
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Henry Bushnell covers soccer – the U.S. nationwide groups, the Premier League, and far, far more – for FC Yahoo and Yahoo Sports activities. Have a tip? Query? Remark? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or observe him on Twitter @HenryBushnell.