McKennie to start for Juventus after being sent home from USMNT camp
USMNT midfielders Weston McKennie and Giovanni Reyna did not play in Sunday’s World Cup qualifier versus Canada and Wednesday’s huge away win in Honduras.
McKennie was dropped from the squad following “a violation of team policy,” a move that was anything but needed from a young team leader.
“Weston will return to Italy and will be unavailable for the match against Honduras due to a violation of team policy,” said USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter. “There are high expectations for those who are a part of the U.S. Men’s National Team, and in order to be successful it’s important that everyone in the group is accountable.”
UPDATE: Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri said on Friday that McKennie will start Saturday’s Serie A clash with Napoli (12 pm ET). It will be his second start in three games to start the season in Italy.
Allegri had previously flip-flopped on whether or not McKennie had a place in his plans at Juventus, but the immediate start after (prematurely) returning from international duty represents a massive opportunity for the 23-year-old American.
Berhalter will next address the media at 6pm ET Tuesday. He was asked after the Canadian game whether McKennie will be back against Honduras on Wednesday and did not commit to it.
“It was a team policy and I’m not going to get into specifics on it. I can’t speak for Weston but I know he wanted to be out there for the boys,” adding at that time that it “remains to be seen” whether he’d play. It’s now been seen. He’s out.
USMNT legend Landon Donovan expressed major disappointment in McKennie during an interview on Grant Wahl’s podcast, implying that the error was much more significant than the coach let on to the media.
USMNT mainstays Christian Pulisic and Tyler Adams tried not to be drawn into the McKennie discipline discussion when asked during post-match press conferences on Sunday.
“We tried not to let that whole situation affect us too much,” Pulisic said. “Obviously we missed him today but it’s about moving forward and trying to win games.
Tyler Adams had a little more bit more to say about it.
“It’s not ideal because he’s such an important character for this team, not just on the field but for what he does to bring us together,” said the RB Leipzig man. “It’s disappointing but it’s that next man up mentality. ... To be fair it hurts us but I don’t think it affected the team too much.”
The Juventus man has been a fiery part of the young Yanks attack and his betrayal of team rules will not be viewed well amongst supporters.
Meanwhile, Reyna has a hamstring strain and will also miss the side’s Wednesday trip to Honduras.
These are two huge losses for the USMNT, who got Christian Pulisic back for the 1-1 draw but was still without Zack Steffen and Timothy Weah. This is a monumental letdown from the Juve man, and we’ll have to see whether the issue is a quick return to the fold a la Phil Foden and England or something longer term.