Weston McKennie understands why he isn’t a part of the current U.S. Men’s National Team squad. He’s too young and too inexperienced for vital matches against Panama and Trinidad & Tobago. It would be too big of a risk.
However, the 19-year-old Schalke star does have his sights on representing the U.S. Men’s National Team by the time next summer’s World Cup comes around.
Bruce Arena announced his 26-man squad on Sunday morning and, to little surprise, McKennie’s name was not involved. Despite making three consecutive starts in Bundesliga play, McKennie was left off the squad in favor of several older, more experienced options. It wasn’t a big shock that a 19-year-old midfielder with no USMNT experience was left out of camp, and you can count McKennie among those who didn’t expect to see his name on the roster.
“We have the qualification in play right now and I can understand if I don’t get a call right away because it’s pretty risky to call an unfamiliar face in such an important time,” McKennie told Goal USA . “If I’m mad about that, that’s pretty selfish because of course I would want to be there, but I also understand the decisions that he made because it’s what’s best for the team and the country.”
Even at 19, there are few players in the USMNT pool playing at a higher level than McKennie. He recently made his Bundesliga debut in a solid performance against Bayern Munich and has rapidly become a full-fledged member of the Schalke first team. As the U.S. still searches for a true partner for Michael Bradley, McKennie also could fill a position of need as a rock-solid defensive midfield presence.
For now, though, McKennie’s debut will have to wait, but the Schalke midfielder believes his time could come in the near future, setting him up for a push for Russia should the U.S. qualify for next summer’s World Cup.
“I think I’m pretty close. Time will tell,” McKennie said. “If I keep performing at Schalke, then it could be closer than expected.
“I don’t think many people would have thought that in my first year as a professional that I would start three games, back-to-back, in the Bundesliga,” he added. “It all depends on the coach and if he trusts you and gives you the chance. Things can happen a lot quicker than you think, but they can also not happen. I think [the World Cup] is a realistic opportunity for me.”