Weston McKennie's journey into professional soccer is like the story of so many kids from the United States. Born in Little Elm, Texas, kicking a ball around was the furthest thing from his mind, in fact, he had a love for Football but not the round ball version, but rather the pigskin version, where he played peewee football before his family had to move to Germany. Weston’s father took a job near the military air force base in Ramstein and Weston moved when he was very young across the pond.
Unable to find an American Football league in his new home, Weston found a new sport to play, the other Football, the world’s Football. And from ages 6 to 9 he played for the local club FC Phönix Otterbach before his family moved back to the United States in 2009. Upon their return, Weston had developed a love for the sport of Soccer and was able to continue his development in the game landing in FC Dallas of Major League Soccer’s youth system, but Germany seemed to be in his destiny as he was being scouted heavily by Schalke 04.
Country was not far off from club as McKennie was being touted to play for FC Dallas in MLS and Schalke, he was also embarking on his U.S. soccer youth national team career. Weston McKennie began playing with the U17’s in 2013 and by 2016 he had moved from the U17’s to the U20’s and confirming his place as one of the U.S. Soccer’s hottest prospects.
Weston McKennie makes his choice to join Schalke 04
By 2016 Weston McKennie had found himself in a situation few American players get, he was on the Youth National teams and had contract offers on the table from FC Dallas and German club Schalke 04. He made the choice to move to Germany after much consultation with his family, the chance to play for one of the top Bundesliga clubs was just too much to resist and he made the move in 2016. To say that things moved very quickly is an understatement: he spent only one year (2016-2017) with the Schalke reserves before being promoted to the first team.
Weston McKennie made his professional debut on May 20, 2017, as a 77th-minute substitute in a 1–1 draw with FC Ingolstadt 04. The following season he would make his first professional start and sign a five-year contract with the club. In his first full season, McKennie made 22 appearances playing a bit in midfield and defense. Subsequently, McKennie played 24 games his second season scoring 1 goal and even scoring in the UEFA Champions League. This past season Weston McKennie played a total of 28 games and scored his all-time high 3 goals, being the only player to score any type of goals consistently for Schalke during a stretch of the season.
Weston McKennie’s progression in the Bundesliga has been widely praised by pundits in the United States as well as in Germany, quickly being signaled as one of the league's best prospects. Unfortunately for Weston his progression personally has not been able to transfer to his club. Schalke is coming off a very disappointing season and even has the young American looking for a move away from Veltins-Arena.
Weston McKennie and the U.S. National Team
On the international front, Weston McKennie has made a huge splash for the U.S. Men's National Team. He gained his first full cap in 2017 and scored a wonderful goal against Portugal, a few months after the colossal failure that was the U.S. not qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.
Despite being injured during some call ups, in total, Weston McKennie has amassed 19 caps and has scored an impressive 6 goals for the U.S. team. Without question, Weston McKennie is one of the main pieces for Gregg Berhalter and his plans to get the U.S. team back to the World Cup stage. His play in Germany has shown that McKennie can play a vast variety of positions in midfield or defense, although in his outings with the U.S. McKennie has played more in the midfield behind or with Michael Bradley or Will Trapp feeding Christian Pulisic.
What does the future hold for Weston McKennie?
In terms of the U.S. Men’s National Team, there is no question that McKennie will be one of Berhalter's go-to guys, especially considering his chemistry with Pulisic and the addition of Gio Reyna to the mix. In terms of his club that is the question mark, currently McKennie’s representation has made it clear his plans to join the English Premier League, and seeing that Schalke will be going through a rebuilding year he may make his long-desired move to the EPL.
Southampton is keen to sign him, but there are rumors regarding moves to Everton, which has been home to many American’s over the years, Leicester City, and Newcastle, while Monaco appeared interested in early August, but since then news of a move to France has cooled. One thing is for sure, Weston McKennie has already done a lot for an American in Europe, playing in a very good German side and playing in the Champions League. If he does move it will have to be with a club that at least matches what he has done in the last few seasons, play consistently, and play in European cup competitions. Not bad for a kid who wanted to find a place to play American Football in Germany when he arrived.