Weston McKennie Profile
|Born||Aug 28, 1998|
|Birthplace||Little Elm, Texas, USA|
Weston McKennie is a versatile midfielder for Serie A side Juventus and the USA national team.
McKennie got the soccer bug in Germany while living there with his American serviceman father. After rising through the youth ranks at FC Dallas, he returned to Germany as an 18-year-old to star for Schalke 04 in the Bundesliga.
His form for Schalke alerted Italian giants Juventus and the Turin club signed McKennie on a year-long loan in August 2020. The fee agreed was €4.5million with an option of a permanent transfer for €25.5million.
McKennie celebrated with a Harry Potter impression after his goal v Bologna in January 2021 and this midfield wizard looks to have a magical future for Juventus and the USA.
Between the ages of six and nine, McKennie lived on a US military base in Kaiserslautern, Germany, where his father was stationed, and the European love for soccer rubbed off on the young Texan.
McKennie began to play for local German club FC Phonix Otterbach in 2004, standing out as a player with excellent ball control.
His love for soccer was cemented with a visit by the USMNT to Kaiserslautern in 2006. McKennie posed for photos with Landon Donovan and Carlos Bocanegra before the friendly with Poland, played largely in front of personnel from his father's military base.
After three years in Germany, McKennie's family returned home to Texas and he joined the reputed FC Dallas Academy in 2009. For a time, McKennie juggled both football and soccer but his success with FC Dallas meant choosing the round ball was an easy decision.
FC Dallas Academy
McKennie spent seven years playing for the FC Dallas Academy after joining as a 10-year-old. During those years he picked up two Development Academy Championships and was named Under-17/18 Central Conference Player of the Year in 2016.
"You could tell right away he had what it takes - the mentality, the physical qualities, his ability on the ball. You could see it, even at 16 and 17," said former FC Dallas clubmate Walker Zimmerman to mlssoccer.com
When he turned 18, McKennie turned down a homegrown contract at FC Dallas as well as a scholarship offer from the University of Virginia to join Schalke 04 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany.
McKennie joined Schalke's U-19 team, working with the highly rated youth coach Norbert Elgert. McKennie had found the right environment to continue the good development work he had received in America, at the German club that produced the likes of Mesut Ozil and Julian Draxler.
His debut U-19 season with Schalke proved fruitful, scoring four goals and claiming three assists. He earned a call up to the Schalke first team in a whirlwind first year at the club.
McKennie made his Schalke debut on the last day of the Bundesliga season in May 2017 versus Ingolstadt 04.
The 2017/18 season proved an incredible learning season for McKennie, playing 22 times for the Royal Blues as they finished second in the Bundesliga to Bayern Munich.
He impressed in several positions across the midfield and back line but it was the 2018/19 season in which McKennie began to ramp up the goals and assists.
McKennie made his Champions League debut on September 18, 2018, setting up Breel Embolo for his goal with a cute pass in the 1-1 draw.
Barely a fortnight had passed before McKennie scored his first competitive goal for Schalke, rising in the 88th minute to score a strong header and clinch a 1-0 win at Lokomotiv Moscow.
His first Bundesliga goal for Schalke came three days later with a close-range left-footed volley in a 2-0 win over Fortuna Dusseldorf.
The 2019/20 season saw McKennie establishing himself as one of the first names on the Schalke team sheet, making his 50th appearance for the Veltins Arena club on August 31, 2019.
But by late August 2020, a combination of the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown and Schalke's failure to qualify for the Champions League meant that McKennie became a saleable asset to balance the books.
There were rumours of interest from Hertha Berlin and Southampton in England but McKennie's destination was sealed when Juventus entered the chase. An opportunity to play with Ronaldo was too good to turn down for the young American and Juventus met Schalke's conditions for a loan with a view to a permanent transfer.
McKennie became the first American to play for Juventus, when he made a dream Serie A debut in a 3-0 win over Sampdoria on September 20.
He scored his first goal in a Juventus shirt in the Turin Derby in early December. McKennie showed intelligent positioning to score a close range headed equaliser on the way to a 2-1 Juventus win over Torino.
As if bragging rights weren't enough in the Turin derby, McKennie followed up with his first Juventus goal in the Champions League with a scissor-kick against Barcelona, in a 3-0 win at Camp Nou.
Clearly unfazed by big occasions, McKennie scored at the San Siro in a 3-1 win against Serie A leaders AC Milan in January 2021.
Manager Andrea Pirlo pushed McKennie further forward and was rewarded with an instinctive finish from the young American, who darted onto a Dejan Kulusevski cut-back pass to finish from six yards.
On January 24, 2021 McKennie hit the headlines with a Harry Potter celebration after capping a fine showing v Bologna with a headed goal in the 2-0 win. McKennie mimed casting a spell with a magic wand and it looked as if he had powers of invisibility to slip his defender and nod home from a 71st-minute corner.
After impressing for FC Dallas' development academy set-up, McKennie was brought into the Youth National Team programmes at under-14 level.
He rose through to the U-19s where he shined as captain for the USA in the 2016 Slovakia Cup. The USA beat Russia 2-1 in the final and McKennie was named Player of the Tournament.
His USMNT debut came on November 14, 2017 against Portugal where he made it onto the scoresheet. McKennie cut inside and slotted the ball home in the 20th minute as the USA drew 1-1 with Portugal in Leiria.
The 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup allowed McKennie to showcase his skills, scoring in both the quarter-finals against Curacao and the semi-finals against Jamaica.
The USA lost 1-0 to rivals Mexico in the final at Soldier Field. McKennie captained the Stars and Stripes team in the high-pressure final, showing maturity beyond his years.
In October 2019 McKennie scored the fastest hat-trick from kick-off in modern USMNT history. He netted in the first, fifth and 13th minutes to secure the landmark trio of goals as his team routed Cuba 7-0.
McKennie was named Male Player of the Year by US Soccer in December 2020.
In 2021, McKennie was again called up to the USMNT for the 2022 World Cup qualifiers. He featured in the goalless draw to El Salvador, but was then swarmed with controversy and was suspended from the side after reportedly breaking COVID-19 regulations.
In his absence, the US team drew 1-1 to Canada before winning 4-1 against Honduras.
Weston McKennie's father is called John and his mother is named Tina. He has an older brother called John Jr.
He has a couple of longstanding friends in soccer in the form of team-mates Christian Pulisic and Tyler Adams.
Away from soccer, McKennie enjoys music, walking his dog and playing the video game Fortnite.
He is a big Harry Potter fan as he showed in his celebration after his goal for Juventus v Bologna.
In May 2020, McKennie took to the field for Schalke wearing a 'Justice For George' armband in memory of George Floyd, the African-American who died in police custody that month.
Weston McKennie News
- Sep 23, 2021