Weston McKennie’s range and energy are admittedly some of his strengths, but they are also admittedly some of his weaknesses.
McKennie did an interview with ESPNFC this week in which he spoke about a range of topics, including his preference for his style of play. The 21-year-old midfielder stated he feels at his best when he is given a license to roam a bit freely in the center of the park, but acknowledged that can hinder him as much as it can help.
“Of course, with that strength is also a weakness and one of my weaknesses is (being) tactically disciplined to stay in one position,” McKennie told ESPNFC. “When you get to the higher, higher levels, sometimes that’s what’s important. You don’t need to be the guy to run 80 yards. It’s about playing smart. If you can do the same job running 20 yards vs. running 40 yards, you’re not going to be looked at differently if you just run the 20 and do the same job.”
Even so, McKennie has felt better during the early days of his blossoming career when he has been used as a box-to-box midfielder that is tasked with both initiating play on the attacking side and breaking things up on the defensive one. Granted, McKennie has not always been used there at his club team Schalke, but that is his personal preference.
“You can’t tell me, ‘Just play offense,’ or, ‘Just play defense,'” said McKennie. “For me, my best time that I’ve ever had was playing at the 8 position where I’m free to come back to get the ball and go forward. I may not be the person that scores or assists often, but I feel like I’m good at connecting plays or just my presence in general in the attack or my presence in general in the defense, teams notice it.
“I have to be able to just free roam a bit. Let me run back 80 yards if I want to and let me run 80 yards in the box.”
For better or worse, McKennie’s tactical discipline and overall style of play has led to early comparisons in Germany to that of retired center midfielder Jermaine Jones. Like McKennie currently, Jones played with both Schalke and the U.S. Men’s National Team for years and much of his game centered around range, energy, and tenacity.
“I think that’s where (people in Schalke) compare it,” said McKennie. “They compare my playing style to him as far as when it comes to tackling and going into tackles and bodying people and whatever you want to call it. “