Manuel Veth –
The Bundesliga has seen its fair share of American players over the years. In fact, the connection can be traced back to 1964 when Hungarian-American midfielder Andy Mate spent a season with Hamburger SV. Since then, there has been some hits and misses but the number of American internationals plying their trade in the German top flight continues to grow, with a record number of nine players making an appearance last term. Of those, Fabian Johnson, John Brooks, Timothy Chandler, Bobby Wood and Christian Pulisic were the standout performers, all getting regular game time for their respective clubs. The next kid in line, who could make a major impact is Schalke’s Weston McKennie.
Of the less high-profile players, Weston McKennie is certainly one name to keep an eye on. The Texan-born midfielder spent three years in the youth ranks of Kaiserslautern before enjoying a spell at local side FC Phönix Otterbach. In 2009, he returned to the United States to enrol at the FC Dallas Academy, where he stayed until 2016. Despite being offered a senior contract at Dallas (through the home-grown rule), he instead chose to move back to Germany, joining Bundesliga side FC Schalke 04.
In May 2017, at the age of 18, and despite having spent just one year at the Schalke academy, McKennie made his first senior appearance, coming on as a 77th-minute substitute in the 1–1 draw with FC Ingolstadt. By September, he had been named in the starting line-up for the first time and soon after, penned a five-year contract, committing him to the club until 2022.
McKennie – Missing Out on Russia 2018 was a Blow
As a regular with the USA youth sides, it now seems just matter of time before the youngster is drafted into the USA senior squad. However, like many American players, he will be devastated not to have the chance to play at next summer’s World Cup. Having already missed out on the U-17 and U-20 World Cups, that will feel like a massive blow to the ambitious youngster who had to watch on in the early hours of the morning as his nation crashed out in humiliating fashion.
At club level, he is now a regular for a Schalke side that is well in the running, with odds of 2/1, for a top-four finish in the Bundesliga betting markets. A recent thigh strain, briefly put the brakes on his run as a first-team regular this term but when fit, he is now one of the first names on Domenico Tedesco’s team sheet.
Still aged just 19, there is plenty of time for the rising star to make an impact at club and international level and he should be entering his prime by the time the next World Cup comes around. And if he carries on his current trajectory, he should be in a position to have an influence on his nation’s qualifying campaign this time around.
With a November friendly match against Portugal coming up, McKennie will surely be keeping his phone close by just in case he receives that call from interim Coach Dave Sarachan. A call that would see him united with former junior national teammate and good friend Christian Pulisic.
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and social media editor at Bundesliga.com. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.