Weston McKennie doesn’t seem like a shy kid at all.
[ MORE: USMNT roster for Portugal ]
19 years old and already a regular in midfield for Schalke in the Bundesliga, McKennie was called up to the U.S. national team for the first time last week for the friendly at Portugal next Tuesday.
[ MORE: McKennie speaks to Mendola ]
Speaking to SI.com, McKennie revealed he wants to remain in the USMNT squad for many years to come.
“It’ll feel really good to be able to get back out and play for my country. Anything that you do for the first time, you can see as a tryout. But I’m looking forward and I’m planning on staying with this team from here on out. We’ll see how it goes. Hopefully I get the opportunity to play and show what I have and how I fit in.”
The former FC Dallas academy product also admitted that despite being hurt by the USA’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup tournament in Russia (he felt particularly sad for his good friend Christian Pulisic who plays for Schalke’s fierce rivals Borussia Dortmund) he couldn’t help but feel his chance has now arrived with the full U.S. national team.
“It was a lot of mixed emotions. It’s a normal thing as an athlete, as a competitor—if someone’s ahead of you, it’s not being selfish or wrong. Every player thinks about it. Is this guy going to play good? You’re lying if you say you don’t think like that. Of course I’m disappointed. But I also think, ‘Does this open more doors for me on the national team?'”
That defeat in Trinidad & Tobago has definitely opened the door for McKennie and many believed he could force his way into the USMNT squad ahead of a potential World Cup tournament next summer.
Now he will get the chance to strut his stuff against Portugal on Nov. 14 and prove that he belongs with the seniors after impressing for the U.S. U-20 side in the past. Admitting he has been in awe of playing against Bayern Munich and other stars in Germany, McKennie also seems to exude confidence as a ball-playing, defensive midfielder and his star is rising.
Over to you, Weston.