Sunday, September 26, 2021

USA coach insists McKennie´s international career is not over despite team protocol breach

SoccerNews in Serie A 8 Sep 2021

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United States head coach Gregg Berhalter says Weston McKennie’s international career is not over despite being banished mid-camp after “a violation of team policy”.

Berhalter refused to go into the specifics of 23-year-old Juventus midfielder McKennie’s breach amid speculation he had a visitor into the team’s bubble.

McKennie drew widespread criticism and was subsequently suspended for Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Canada, as USA continues to struggle in 2022 World Cup qualifying.

USA confirmed on Monday that McKennie would miss Wednesday’s qualifier against Honduras and return to Italy to re-join Juventus, putting his future with the side in doubt.

“Of course. It’s an open-door policy,” Berhalter told reporters when asked if McKennie has a future with the national team.

“Very rarely would there be a situation where a player would never be allowed back into national team camp. That’s not how we operate.”

He added: “Me and Weston have long conversations. He is a guy I care about deeply. He is a big part of the team, and I’m sure when he is performing well [for Juventus] he’ll be back in the team.”

McKennie was named as the Player of the Tournament in the CONCACAF Nations League, which USA won by beating Mexico in June.

The former Schalke midfielder has 25 caps for USA, scoring seven goals, including four in the Nations League.

“People make mistakes. Weston apologised to the group, he apologised to me. Things happen,” Berhalter said.

“The most important message we’re getting through — or trying to get through — is we’re here in camp for seven days. The intensity is incredible.

“It’s three [matches] in seven days. We need everyone’s single-minded focus on what we’re trying to accomplish. By and large, the group is focused on that.”

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