Weston McKennie opens up on growing up with USMNT, Juve, becoming a star

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Let’s start here: Weston McKennie has reached “billboard” status in his young footballing career.

Whatever you have to say about the commercial aspect of our sports world or the rocket trajectory of so many American players in the game, there’s something about getting your face on a billboard that helps stratify young stars, whether they spent their careers coming up through the academy of a hallowed European institution or if, like McKennie, you’ve moved from FC Dallas academy to Schalke and the United States men’s national team and now Juventus.

[ MORE: USMNT releases roster ]

And so it is that it seems remarkable that McKennie’s face is on billboards as part of his connection with Six Star Sports Nutrition, a company he simply liked because their supplements helped him perform at his best.

So, yeah, regardless of on or off-field drama — and we’ll get to that — the star of Weston McKennie continues to burn brighter and that’s where we begin our conversation with the 23-year-old midfielder.

ProSoccerTalk: Honestly, Weston, the last time we spoke 1-on-1 and outside of a USMNT Zoom session you were a teenager at Schalke. Every player imagines his journey to stardom, but your rise is still pretty surreal even for a person with high expectations. What do you think about when you consider where this journey started and where it sits now, where you’re a big part of one of the biggest clubs on earth and have your face on billboards?

Weston McKennie: “It’s definitely something where if you would’ve put it in front of me and said this is where you’re going to be at, when I’m 15, 16 years old, I probably wouldn’t have believed that. When I first made the jump to Europe and went to Schalke and finally made the first team, I finally realized I could make it big one day. I can get to a top club. In my eyes at that time, Schalke was a top club for me coming from America. I have goals and each time I accomplish one, I set another one. I made it at Schalke and I wanted to grow and develop as quickly as possible and see where it would go from there. It was a matter of self-belief and staying healthy.”

ProSoccerTalk: Speaking of self-belief, there’s an expectation of fire from you on the pitch, but whether it’s being a part of the fabric of Juventus or the leadership of the USMNT, there also needs to be humility. The word “swagger” is often used when it comes to you. How do you balance the swagger that comes with needing to be the best you can be and knowing your personality is required in that, versus knowing the history of Juventus, Schalke, and the national team, and balancing that?”

Weston McKennie: “To be completely honest, I struggled a bit with balancing that when I first came to Juventus, not in humility part but just that in Italian football has a different culture than

McKennie COVID
ROME, ITALY – SEPTEMBER 27: Ronaldo and McKennie in September 2020 (Photo by Silvia Lore/Getty Images)

I’m used to and Juventus is a different stature than any club I’ve played for. Here, you’re expected to win and if you’re not winning games and still joking around and having a good time, it’s looked down upon and you can say that’s a good thing or bad thing but for me it’s like, crap, because I’m a person who if we lose a game I’m mad but I can’t dwell in the past too long. Let it hurt for the rest of the night, maybe a little bit of the morning, but after that life and football goes on and you have to focus on the next game.

“When I first came here, I was a little bit looked at like, ‘Ehhh, what are you doing kid? You’re out here trying to laugh and joke and play music loud and we just lost yesterday?’ But I’ve learned to pick and choose the right moments when I can let my full personality out, and when I can tone it down a bit but still be myself at the same time.”

ProSoccerTalk: When you first signed at Juve, I remember the social media of yours going from the blue of Schalke to the black-and-white of Juventus and the unveiling, training competitions with Cristiano Ronaldo, Chiellini, Bonucci, monsters of the game. These are legends and at that point you’re attempting to become a mainstay. Even the executives and directors are some of the biggest names in world football. Honestly, it feels like it would almost be necessary or even a coping mechanism not to be yourself. A big name coach leaves, replaced by another giant of the game. Do you feel like you’ve found your even-keel level, the comfort inside of the chaos? When you’re on a team, you’re on a team. But now you’re woven into the fabric. 

Weston McKennie: “It’s definitely crazy. If you would’ve told me five, six years ago I’d be playing with the guys I play as on FIFA, I wouldn’t never said, ‘Yeah.’ If you would’ve told me I’d play with Cristiano, Dybala, Szczesny, Chiellini, Bonucci, I would never say, ‘Yeah, of course.’ But now that I look at it — I understand why at home people ask me what it’s like in the locker room, what is Dybala like? I’d probably be the same if I wasn’t here, but these are my guys, this is my team. If I need them I just walk down the hall and knock on their door.

“When you come to teams like this, you don’t have time to stay in that awe moment, to stay in that fan moment because that’s your level now. That’s what you’re trying to be. You’re gonna make it or your not. You can be a fan boy but it can be gone just like that if you don’t perform and show them why the next person who comes in should be a fan boy of you.”

ProSoccerTalk: When it comes to the elephant in the room, I’m not naive enough to think I’m the guy to unlock the vault on what happened leading up to Gregg Berhalter sending you home from the World Cup qualifiers. But we know life’s an education, so what’s stuck with you most in the ensuing months?

Weston McKennie: “Honestly, I won’t go into detail on how I saw it, but for me it was a big, big mental test and a big, big challenge to overcome because you make a mistake, and you’re automatically looked at as someone who is letting the team down or someone that is selfish. People forget sometimes that we’re human, y’know? We’re not robots and allowed to make mistakes as well. Everyone has a severity or terrible timing in their mistakes, but everyone makes them.

USMNT
(Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

“For me it was just about getting back here and trying to find my form and confidence. There are a lot of people who can be affected by social media. I try not to look into that too much but it was hard to avoid and the things that were said to me were really hard to take. The things that were said to me, I was racially abused for it. I was called many names, said I was selfish and acting like a kid. I’ve worked my whole life to get where I am, but not every moment is going to be at a high point. Some people are going to be at a low point and that’s when the real fans and support group starts to show. At that moment, I felt like I really found out what people are about and what they are looking for, whether you succeed or not. That’s what I learned so I’m trying to put in the work, keep my head down, and prove them wrong on the field.”

ProSoccerTalk: That’s wise. I know you’ve got more media to do so apologies for leaping from heaviness to something way lighter. I love hearing your fellow Texan, Clint Dempsey, talk about you so positively. To me, he’s it — the pinnacle of U.S. men’s achievement, even more than Donovan and Reyna. When we talk about you, Christian, and Gio having the chance to be the best, that’s where you’re aiming. So when you think of your generation of the national team hopefully restoring the program’s status and reputation, and making guys like Dempsey proud, what does that mean to you?

Weston McKennie: “It means a lot. I looked up to a lot of those players as well and Clint Dempsey was one of them. He’s a guy, like you said about me, the way I carry myself with the national team. I kinda have my own swagger. I have my own little vibe going on, but I still fight and I leave everything on the field. Clint Dempsey was one of those guys who did the same thing but he also has this country charisma, like, “Woah,” an aspect that’s not different [from McKennie].”

ProSoccerTalk: That’s not unlike you!

Weston McKennie: “Yeah. And to go into the national team and have an impact and hopefully be a part of a generation that makes people fall in love with the game in the U.S. and gains respect in countries around the world and hopefully one day be hanging side-by-side on a wall with the Hall of Fame or something would be amazing and mean a lot to me.”

Champions League odds
TURIN, ITALY – OCTOBER 28: Lionel Messi of Barcelona and Weston McKennie of Juventus . (Photo by Tullio Puglia – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)

Tigres stun Chivas with wild comeback in five-goal thriller to win Liga MX Clausura

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Tigres fought back from 2-0 down to beat Chivas 3-2 after extra time in a crazy second leg of Liga MX’s Clausura final, as Tigres were crowned Clausura champs.

WATCH FULL REPLAY

Tied at 0-0 from the first leg of the final in San Nicolas on Thursday, Chivas roared into an early 2-0 lead at Akron Stadium as Roberto Alvarado and Victor Guzman both scored inside the opening 20 minutes.

But then Tigres roared back in the second half with Andre-Pierre Gignac scoring a penalty kick with 25 minutes to go, then six minutes later Sebastian Cordova made it 2-2 to force extra time.

[ TRANSFER NEWS: Arsenal | Liverpool | Chelsea | Tottenham | Man City | Man United

When the game looked destined for penalty kicks Guido Pizarro then scored a deflected winner in the 110th minute for Tigres, as two late red cards saw Cordova sent off for Tigres and Gilberto Sepulveda sent off for Chivas.

At the final whistle it was Tigres’ players who celebrated one of the most incredible comebacks in Liga MX final history, as they secured an eight Liga MX trophy and their first since winning the Clausura in 2019.


How to watch Chivas vs Tigres live, stream link and start time

Kick off: Sunday, May 28 – 9:25pm ET 
TV Channel: Telemundo, Universo
Online: Stream via Peacock


Second leg Chivas vs Tigres video highlights – 2-3

First leg Tigres vs Chivas video highlights – 0-0


Premier League final table: Final standings for 2022-23 season

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If it’s the 2022-23 Premier League table you’re after, you’ve come to the right place.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

After the break for the 2022 World Cup, the Premier League returned with a bang and the start to 2023 delivered plenty of fun and it continued into the business end of the season.

Manchester City chased down Arsenal to win yet another Premier League title. Manchester United’s new-look side reclaimed a place in the top four, and so did Newcastle. Brighton and Aston Villa surprised by qualifying for Europe, while Liverpool dips into an unusual competition for its recent standards.

Teams were relegated. Managers were sacked. And here’s how the table looked when all was said and done.


Premier League final table – End of season

Premier League standings

NBC Sports’ standings and scoreboard



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Leicester relegated despite final day win over West Ham

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Leicester City has been relegated to the Championship despite getting the win it needed to have hope of survival: a 2-1 defeat of West Ham United at the King Power Stadium on Championship Sunday.

Leicester entered the day two points back of Everton for 17th place on the Premier League table and got goals from Harvey Barnes and Wout Faes to secure three points, but Everton outlasted Bournemouth 1-0 to match the Foxes and keep them below the dreaded line.

WATCH LEICESTER vs WEST HAM FULL MATCH REPLAY STREAM – LINK

Leicester finishes its season with 34 points in 18th place on the Premier League table.

West Ham, on the other hand, will be forgiven for focusing on the Europa Conference League Final but fought hard for an equalizer even though it only found a Pablo Fornals marker after Leicester had gone ahead two. The Irons finish 14th with 40 points.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


Too little, too late for Foxes

“Too little, too late” may go down as the story of the Foxes season.

Leicester did not get its recruitment plans correct — somewhat forced by Financial Fair Play — and then put too much faith in Brendan Rodgers to make things work.

Dean Smith got some performances out of this men, few better than Sunday, but this ultimately feels like a fait accompli: Sometimes, the whole is less than the sum of its parts. Despite big seasons from Harvey Barnes and James Maddison, this was that.

There’s also the question of playing for a draw against Newcastle on Monday, but let’s not heap criticism on Dean Smith for taking a calculated risk. He deserves better.


Leicester vs West Ham player ratings: Stars of the Show

Leicester vs West Ham player ratings
fotmob.com

Harvey Barnes goal video: Leicester lifeline!


Wout Faes goal video: Foxes double the lead


Pablo Fornals goal video: Irons pull one back


How to watch Leicester vs West Ham live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 11:30am ET Sunday
TV Channel: SYFY
Online: Watch live on Peacock + Watch live on NBCSports.com


Key storylines & star players

Leicester would love to see Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall and Wilfred Ndidi pass fitness checks, but Dean Smith will have rested and ready Harvey Barnes and James Maddison in a bid to score more goals than the Irons.

West Ham could be seeing the penultimate appearance of Declan Rice in an Irons shirt, as the big-money midfielder is being linked to several big clubs in the Premier League.


Leicester team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: James Justin (calf), Jannik Vestergaard (calf), Wilfred Ndidi (thigh), Caglar Soyuncu (thigh), Ryan Bertrand (other)

West Ham team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Gianluca Scamacca (knee)

Leeds relegated from Premier League as Harry Kane hits 30-goal mark

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Leeds (31 points – 19th place) have been relegated from the Premier League after they were beaten 4-1 by Tottenham at Elland Road on the final day of the 2022-23 season.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

Harry Kane scored twice more to complete his second 30-goal season, as Tottenham (60 points – 8th place) missed out on the Premier League’s final European place with Aston Villa beating 6th-place Brighton to qualify for the Europa Conference League. Now, a painfully pivotal summer of hirings and signings awaits for Spurs.

It was a nightmare start for Leeds, who needed not only a victory of their own but also points to be dropped by both Everton and Leicester above them. Tottenham’s first foray into Leeds’ penalty area ended with Kane hammering the ball past Joel Robles.

WATCH LEEDS vs TOTTENHAM FULL MATCH REPLAY

New half, same story for Leeds, who conceded once again barely a minute into the second half. Kane turned provider this time, as he lofted a blind ball into the channel for the overlapping Pedro Porro, who barely had a sight of goal with Robles smothering the near post. But, Porro placed a pinpoint strike just inside the far post from a tight angle.

Leeds gave themselves a faint hope when he slotted home after Georginio Rutter picked him out between two defenders in the 67th minute, but Kane answered just two minutes later with his second of the day and the 280th — and potentially final — goal of his Tottenham career.


Leeds United relegation reaction

Club statement:

“Everyone connected with Leeds United is deeply disappointed by the club’s relegation back to the Sky Bet Championship, after three seasons in the Premier League.

“Relegation is painful, and we apologize to our fanbase that the performances this season have not seen the club consolidate our status as we had all hoped.

“However, Leeds United remains in a strong position to build a team that can challenge for promotion from the Championship next season.

“We know things have not been good enough, we know we have to improve, but please be assured that behind the scenes we have worked hard to ensure that the past will not be repeated. Our focus is now on how we get straight back to the Premier League.

“Thank you for your unwavering support for the players and the badge, our objective is to continue to build the club into the one you deserve.”


Stars of the show

Leeds vs Tottenham
Photo: FotMob.com

Leeds vs Tottenham, final score: 1-4

2nd minute – Harry Kane hammers home Tottenham’s opening goal

47th minute – Pedro Porro places a pinpoint strike inside the far post for 2-0

67th minute – Jack Harrison gives Leeds a late lifeline

69th minute – Harry Kane answers immediately with his 30th goal of the season

90th minute +4 – Lucas Moura adds to Leeds misery with Spurs’ 4th goal


How to watch Leeds vs Tottenham live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 11:30 am ET, Sunday
TV channel: CNBC
Online: Stream via Peacock Premium + Watch on NBCSports.com


Key storylines & star players

Leeds have had plenty of time opportunities to drag themselves out of the bottom-three and away from the relegation scrap as a whole, but they are now winless in their last eight games (0W-2D-6L) and have won just three of their last 24. Their biggest problem? The Premier League’s worst defensive record in 2022-23 — 74 goals conceded in 37 games. In each of the last four seasons, the side to concede the most goals has been relegated.

With another summer of uncertainty (from the manager to most of the first-team squad) on the cards for Spurs, Sunday could be the final time Harry Kane pulls on the white shirt of Tottenham, following reports this week that he will ask — or perhaps has already asked — to leave the club if a fair offer is made. Kane’s 278 goals make him the club’s all-time record goal scorer, and his departure could signal a full-blown tear-down and rebuild for the incoming manager still to be hired.


Leeds team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Tyler Adams (hamstring – out for season), Luis Sinisterra (ankle – out for season), Patrick Bamford (thigh)

Tottenham team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Cristian Romero (undisclosed), Rodrigo Bentancur (torn ACL – out for season), Hugo Lloris (hip), Eric Dier (hernia), Ryan Sessegnon (thigh), Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (undisclosed)

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