Following the release of the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team roster for the upcoming World Cup, many were left surprised by the absence of Weston McKennie and Nick Taitague. The two Schalke stars figured to be key members of the squad, but neither was on the roster.
On Tuesday, head coach Tab Ramos let his feelings be known, revealing that Schalke refused to let the two join their national team. Now, Schalke has issued a response of its own.
According to ESPN, Schalke media director Thomas Spiegel says the club was “surprised” by Ramos’ criticism. The U.S. U-20 boss hit out on the club on Tuesday, saying the U.S. Soccer program “didn’t get any cooperation from Schalke at all”.
“Schalke was pretty straight-forward with, ‘Our U-19s are more important than your national team, so they’re going to stay here until we’re done playing’,” Ramos said. “That’s something for our young players to look at. When they go to Europe, sometimes you sign for a club that thinks your national team is not important at the youth level, so you have to deal with that.”
According to Spiegel, the club told Ramos they would release McKennie for international duty “at the earliest possible moment” as the club is currently competing in the U-19 Bundesliga playoffs.
“The comments leave us surprised,” Spiegel told ESPN. “It would have been similar with players of all other nationalities. But U.S. Soccer said that in this case they would not call him up.”
McKennie and Taitague were both in the lineup alongside fellow American Haji Wright on Wednesday as Schalke defeated Bayern Munich’s U-19s, 3-1, in the first leg of their playoff match.
The U.S. is set to kick off the U-20 World Cup on May 22 against Ecuador before facing Senegal and Saudi Arabia to round out the group stage.