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Wagner: McKennie is one of the key players in the Bundesliga

Weston McKennie has only played in two Bundesliga matches under new manager David Wagner, but the 20-year-old American midfielder is already receiving great praise.

Despite Schalke’s 3-0 loss to defending league champs Bayern Munich on Saturday, Wagner did not hold back his excitement for working with McKennie who is expected to be a key figure for the club once again this season.

“He is an outstanding talent in the No. 6 and No. 8 position,” Wagner said in an interview with Fox Sports. “He has a great working mentality which you need and he is brave on the ball as well. He also has a good header. He’s only 20-years-old so there is still more to come, but we are happy to have him in our team and we will try to support him and help him in his development. I think he is one of the key players for Schalke and also one of the key players in the Bundesliga. We will try to help him continue on this stage.”

McKennie played numerous positions for Schalke last season as the club tried for any consistency in what proved to be a disappointing campaign. The former FC Dallas academy player saw time in the backline as well as a second forward, but it isn’t likely he will play those roles under the German-American manager.

“This year the coach and I see eye-to-eye and a clear role for me in the No. 6 and No. 8 positions,” McKennie said. “I think this year is not like last where I was a utility player at several other positions. This is better for me and my understanding and what my role for the team is.”

McKennie now has 49 league appearances under his belt as he now tries to help Schalke back into European qualification for next season. He got his first taste of the UEFA Champions League last season, facing the likes of EPL giants Manchester City as well as Porto, Galatasaray, and Lokomotiv Moscow.

The club has yet to win so far in this early Bundesliga season, but will try to change that on Saturday at home against Hertha Berlin. McKennie has  already seen the small changes that Wagner has brought to the club and feels confident under Wagner going forward.

“The coach is trying to instill confidence in all of us and in our play,” McKennie said. “Last season we played a lot of over the top and long balls, this year we’re trying to change our style and connect with one another. Have the confidence to want the ball and get the ball. It’s paying off in training so far.”

Schalke have one point from their opening two league matches, but face winnable opponents in Hertha Berlin, Paderborn, and Mainz over their next three fixtures.


  1. I think the midfielders who will be the heart of this team will be Adams and McKennie, I know everyone loves Pulisic, but I think he is better suited to an attacking wide role where he can either cut inside or go wide, like what he did in his best efforts for Dortmund.

    Both Adams and McKennie have more to learn about smart tactical positioning but they have shown improvement in that department and I expect they will continue to get better. McKennie in particular will benefit from being used in a stable position by Schalke.

    Both have terrific stamina and athleticism; except for the recent injury to Adams, both have been relatively healthy, something that cannot be valued too highly. Remember John O’Brian who was arguably one of the best players for the USA in the early 2000s, but was injured so often, he is often forgotten.

    While Bizzy hates it, Bradley will still play a role (probably minor) for another year or so.

    • That is a tall claim. Right now there are 2 other US Midfielders who are roughly the same age and are ahead of him talent wise (Pulisic & Adams). In the past we’ve had Reyna, Ramos, Beasley, and even Donovan & Dempsey (though they were more commonly used/remembered as forwards). I’d even include O’Brian….even though his career was derailed by injury.
      If McKennie, Adams, & Pulisic do reach/exceed the levels of the others I mentioned than they will provide a strong midfield core to build around for the next 10 years.


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