Weston McKennie

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Burning question: How will the USMNT perform as World Cup hosts?

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We know the question is fraught with variables, but let’s consider this question during this dead period in world soccer: What should we expect from the United States men’s national team at the home World Cup.

The USMNT will presumably have a ninth World Cup under its belt when it joins Canada and Mexico in hosting the 2026 World Cup.

Expectations will be sky-high for the Yanks, eight years removed from failure to qualify for the 2018 tournament and 22 years after hosting the World Cup that would jumpstart soccer in this country.

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It’s wild to think about a 27-year-old Christian Pulisic leading the Yanks as presumed captain. Health-willing, the winger will be somewhere in the 80-cap range and potentially have a resume as decorated as any in history at his age.

Let’s begin by talking about who will be on the roster, considering we cannot know the identity of the coach or which players will explode onto the scene. Maybe Keegan Rosenberry or Donovan Pines get chances and grasp them. Maybe both disappear from the picture. Six years is a long time, so we’ll stick with the familiar.

Given the tremendous changes at the top of U.S. Soccer and a spirit amongst fans which has been downright venomous, it may be difficult to imagine Gregg Berhalter will still be at the helm unless his side has a remarkable tournament in Qatar, but it’s possible (For what it’s worth, Berhalter’s USMNT playing career happened alongside new USMNT general manager Brian McBride).

So let’s look at the class of players who are in the picture now and would also still be in their primes, assuming health.

Near certainties

We’re lending some leeway to Dest, Weah, and Reyna given their early and impressive starts to careers at elite European clubs, and a little bit to Steffen, too; Whether the Fortuna Dussseldorf loan man is the No. 1 is a conversation to be had, but his experience gives him a foothold as a member of the corps.

  • Pulisic, 27
  • Weston McKennie, 27
  • Tyler Adams, 27
  • Zack Steffen, 31
  • Giovanni Reyna, 23
  • Tim Weah, 26
  • Sergino Dest, 25

The wily vets: We know there will be late bloomers and those that play deep into their 30s — Gyasi Zardes may become the USMNT’s new Chris Wondolowski if he hasn’t already — but these five names are well-established now and well-liked by the hierarchy.

  • Jordan Morris, 31
  • John Brooks, 33
  • DeAndre Yedlin, 32
  • Walker Zimmerman, 33
  • Cristian Roldan, 31

Young, experienced, but with questions: It’s a touch harsh to have Sargent here, as recency bias is the challenge (He’s struggled of late but has a very strong resume at Werder Bremen and with the USMNT). He also will have to contend with a pool of very deep and young attackers.  Miazga and Horvath also possess the resume and acumen, but there are enough minor questions about playing time — getting it and keeping it — at the very top levels of Europe.

  • Josh Sargent, 26
  • Matt Miazga, 30
  • Ethan Horvath,  30

How will they fare with a step up? There’s nothing to dislike about this crew apart from where they are playing now. Cannon, Miles Robinson, and Yueill are in a strengthened MLS but that is still not a guarantee on the international stage. Antonee Robinson was denied a January move to AC Milan, and the Wigan Athletic man is going to get a big look from someone soon since he plays left back. Cannon and he will get a chance almost as soon as the transfer window opens again.

  • Reggie Cannon, 28
  • Antonee Robinson, 28
  • Miles Robinson, 29
  • Jackson Yueill, 29

Oh, we sure do hope so: Whether playing on second sides of German powers, dipping their toes in the Premier League like Aston Villa’s Indiana Vassilev, or in a sea of MLS or Eredivisie hopefuls, there are a ton of buoyant young players waiting for their turn on the stage.

We include older Cameron Carter-Vickers due to his loan experience in the Championship, and two names on here are the wildest of wild cards. Folarin Balogun is lighting up the PL2 for Arsenal but has repped England youth since playing for the Americans, while Konrad de la Fuente is training with Barcelona’s first team but there’s a looooong road from Barcelona B to first team playing time.

Even this list leaves off Brandon Servania, James Sands, Charlie Kellman, and a host of others with seemingly effervescent futures.

  • Chris Richards, 26
  • Indiana Vassilev, 25
  • Ulysses Llanez, 25
  • Jesus Ferreira, 25
  • Konrad de la Fuente, 24
  • Paxton Pomykal, 26
  • Cameron Carter-Vickers, 28
  • Richie Ledezma, 25
  • Chris Gloster, 25
  • Alex Mendez, 25
  • Mason Toye, 27
  • Sebastian Soto, 25
  • Folarin Balogun*, 24

So what does it mean?

Having already qualified and playing on home soil, the Yanks will be playing in an expanded field. Unless the nation experiences unparalleled drop-offs in form and development, the side will enter the tournament with high expectations at home.

A perceived group of death will no longer be met by “Well, maybe next time.” Questions will be more on defenders than anything else, although the U.S. men have yet to find the latest from the Tim Howard, Brad Friedel, Kasey Keller time line of elite backstops (Honorable mention to Brad Guzan and Nick Rimando).

Admitting that the exercise of, “What’s gonna happen in six years?” is rooting deeply in our current soccer landscape’s dormant state, we project the Yanks to be in the knockout rounds with a chance — however small or large — to get past whoever gets in their way.

Americans Abroad: USMNT trio McKennie, Sargent, Miazga score

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A trio of staple U.S. men’s national team players scored over the weekend, making it one of the most productive weekends for Americans abroad this year.

Weston McKennie and Josh Sargent scored a goal apiece in Bundesliga action on Saturday. The 20-year-old forward scored three minutes into Werder Bremen’s eventual 2-2 draw, while the Schalke midfielder scored his team’s lone goal in the 20th minute.

Over in England, after a few months of instability, Matt Miazga registered his second goal with a Reading shirt.

Here is a list of several other USMNT affiliates making a name for themselves (or not) abroad this weekend.

Premier League

Christian Pulisic, Chelsea — Pulisic, who is recovering from an adductor injury, is getting closer to full recovery. Chelsea boss Frank Lampard mentioned that the American star took part in an  “in-house game” prior to the Blues’ bout against Everton.

DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle — Yedlin remained in the bench in Newcastle’s 1-0 win over Southampton on Saturday.

EFL Championship

Antonee Robinson, Wigan Athletic —  The fullback remains sidelined as he continues to recover from an injury. There’s no timeline on his return.

Duane Holmes, Derby County — Holmes also remains sidelined as he continues to recover from an injury. There’s no timeline on his return either.

Matt Miazga, Reading (loan from Chelsea) — The 24-year-old scored and played 90 minutes in Reading’s 3-1 in win over Birmingham City.

Eric Lichaj, Hull City — Lichaj is out for the season with an ankle injury.

Geoff Cameron, QPR — The 34-year-old defender was sent off against Preston North End on Saturday.

Tim Ream, Fulham — Ream started and played 82 minutes in Fulham’s 1-1 draw with Bristol City.

Cameron Carter-Vickers, Luton Town (loan Tottenham Hotspur) — Carter-Vickers started and played 90 minutes in Luton’s 0-0 draw with Wigan Athletic on Saturday.

Bundesliga

Timmy Chandler, Eintracht Frankfurt Just weeks removed from a stellar, two-goal performance, Chandler wasn’t called on the bench in Frankfurt’s 4-0 loss to Bayern Munich.

John Brooks, Wolfsburg – The 26-year-old defender started and played all game in Wolfsburg 0-0 draw with RB Leipzig.

Weston McKennie, Schalke —  McKennie started, played 90 minutes and scored a goal in Schalke’s 1-1 draw with Hoffenheim.

Zack Steffen and Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf — Steffen is out with an injury, while Morales was left on the bench in Fortuna’s draw with Mainz.

Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen  Sargent played 87 minutes and scored a goal in Werder Bremen’s 2-2 draw.

Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig — Adams was left on the bench.

Fabian Johnson, Borussia Mönchengladbach — Johnson, too, was left on the bench on Saturday.

Eredivisie

Sergino Dest, Ajax — Dest started and played all 90 minutes in Ajax’s 3-1 win over SC Heerenveen.

Haji Wright, VVV-Venlo — The 21-year-old striker started and played 77 minutes in VVV Venlo’s 3-0 loss.

Ligue 1

Timothy Weah, Lille — Weah is out for the remainder of the season.

Theoson Jordan-Siebatcheu, Rennes — Jordon-Siebatcheu didn’t feature for Rennes on Sunday.

Honorable Mentions

Dillon Powers, Dundee United — Powers played 90 minutes and scored a goal in Dundee’s 1-1 draw with Patrick Thistle on Saturday.

Aron Johannsson, Hammarby — The striekr played 90 minutes and scored a goal in Hammarby’s 4-0 win over Sundsvall on Sunday.

Joel Sonora, Arsenal de Sarandi — Sonora played 12 minutes and scored a goal in Arsenal’s 4-0 win over Aldosivi on Friday.

USMNT’s Sargent, McKennie end goal-scoring droughts in Bundesliga

Josh Sargent
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Josh Sargent and Weston McKennie are both finally back amongst the goals.

The Werder Bremen and Schalke men gave their struggling clubs early leads in Bundesliga action on Saturday, both ending significant droughts.

Sargent’s drought was more notable, as the young forward is expected to score more than his combative American compatriot.

The Werder Bremen and USMNT forward scored his first club goal since Oct. 19 in the third minute of Saturday’s match at Hertha Berlin.

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It was 2-0 three minutes later, but let’s focus on the Americans.

Bremen had lost five-straight matches, the last four of which saw Sargent coming off the bench.

Sargent has two goals and three assists across all competitions this season.

He will likely be called up by Gregg Berhalter later this month to add to 12 caps and five goals. He scored twice for the USMNT in November versus Cuba.


McKennie, 21, scored a beauty of his own while working through traffic in the 20th minute of a match with Hoffenheim at the Veltins-Arena.

McKennie hadn’t scored since bagging a pair of goals for Schalke between Oct. 3-6, 2018.

He has six goals in 19 caps.

Bundesliga wrap: RB Leipzig, Dortmund keep pace with Bayern

Bundesliga
(Photo by Alexandre Simoes/Borussia Dortmund via Getty Images)
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There were plenty of young American players on show Saturday as the Bundesliga title race continues with at least three contestants.

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RB Leipzig smashed Schalke and BVB took care of business at Werder Bremen to stay close to Bayern Munich.

Borussia Monchengladbach slipped a bit off the pace with a draw, but still has a match-in-hand on the three teams ahead of it.

Werder Bremen 0-2 Borussia Dortmund

Erling Haaland scored his 40th goal of a season spread between BVB and Red Bull Salzburg to salt away a two-goal win a relegation-threatened Bremen.

Dan-Axel Zagadou scored BVB’s other goal, with Jadon Sancho and Achraf Hazimi getting assists. Dortmund is four points back of leaders Bayern and three back of Leipzig. They face Bayern on April 4 and Leipzig on May 9.

American teen Giovanni Reyna followed up his first UCL assist at midweek by making another substitute appearance. He completed all 12 of his passes, making one key pass and winning 2-of-3 duels in 13 minutes.

Fellow USMNT man Josh Sargent played 11 minutes for the hosts, converting his only dribble attempt and winning his only 50-50 while registering an interception.

Schalke 0-5 RB Leipzig

Five different players scored for the visitors in a humbling of David Wagner‘s top four hopefuls in Gelsenkirchen.

Marcel Sabitzer’s last name sounds like a weapon, and he put Schalke on notice with a bullet after 55 seconds before Timo Werner, Marcel Halstenberg, Angelino, and Emil Forsberg joined in on the fun.

USMNT midfielder Weston McKennie was subbed off in the 55th minute with the score 1-0, so he was spared a bit.

Elsewhere
Bayern Munich 3-2 Paderborn — Friday
Hertha Berlin 0-5 Koln
Freiburg 0-2 Fortuna Dusseldorf
Borussia Monchengladbach 1-1 Hoffenheim
Bayer Leverkusen v. Augsburg — 9:30 a.m. ET Sunday
Wolfsburg v. Mainz — Noon ET Sunday
Eintracht Frankfurt v. Union Berlin — 2:30 p.m. ET Monday

Standings

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Bayern Munich 23 15 4 4 65 26 39 8-2-2 7-2-2 49
 RB Leipzig 23 14 6 3 61 25 36 7-3-1 7-3-2 48
 Borussia Dortmund 23 13 6 4 65 32 33 8-3-0 5-3-4 45
 Mönchengladbach 22 13 4 5 43 25 18 8-2-1 5-2-4 43
 Bayer Leverkusen 22 12 4 6 38 29 9 5-4-2 7-0-4 40
 FC Schalke 04 23 9 9 5 32 32 0 5-5-2 4-4-3 36
 1899 Hoffenheim 23 10 4 9 34 36 -2 5-1-6 5-3-3 34
 SC Freiburg 23 9 6 8 31 33 -2 5-2-4 4-4-4 33
 VfL Wolfsburg 22 8 7 7 28 28 0 3-5-3 5-2-4 31
 Eintracht Frankfurt 22 8 4 10 37 35 2 6-3-2 2-1-8 28
 FC Augsburg 22 7 6 9 34 45 -11 5-3-3 2-3-6 27
 1. FC Union Berlin 22 8 2 12 27 35 -8 6-0-5 2-2-7 26
 1. FC Köln 22 8 2 12 33 42 -9 5-1-5 3-1-7 26
 Hertha BSC Berlin 23 7 5 11 27 43 -16 3-2-7 4-3-4 26
 FSV Mainz 05 22 7 1 14 31 48 -17 3-1-7 4-0-7 22
 Fortuna Düsseldorf 23 5 5 13 23 46 -23 3-2-6 2-3-7 20
 Werder Bremen 23 4 5 14 25 53 -28 1-2-8 3-3-6 17
 SC Paderborn 23 4 4 15 29 50 -21 2-1-9 2-3-6 16

USMNT midfielder McKennie returns to Schalke training, February return expected

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United States men’s national team midfielder Weston McKennie is back training with Schalke’s first-team, and is on course to make his return to action in February.

In mid-December, during Schalke’s match against Eintracht Frankfurt, the 21-year-old was taken off the field on a stretcher after suffering a gruesome shoulder injury.

Shortly after the match, it was confirmed that McKennie had dislocated his left shoulder and would be out until at least February, according to manager David Wagner. “[Weston will] undergo a conservative course of treatment which means he won’t be able to play again until February,” he said.

However, the midfielder’s has made significant progress in rehabilitation and has joined Schalke in their mid-year training camp in southern Spain ahead of Bundesliga’s second half of the season.

McKennie isn’t only participating in individual drills, but he is also involved in the majority of full training with the rest of his teammates with the exception of tackling.

The FC Dallas has made 13 league appearances for the Royal Blues this season, starting a total of 10 for Bundesliga’s fifth-place side. Schalke returns to league action on January 17, as they host a tough Borussia Monchengladbach.