CINCINNATI, OHIO - NOVEMBER 12: Christian Pulisic #10 and Weston McKennie #8 of the United States talk during a FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifying match between the United States and Mexico at TQL Stadium on November 12, 2021 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

Weston McKennie, a United States team leader, showed his progress ahead of the United States home clash against Honduras

While Tyler Adams may be the engine for the United States midfield in these Concacaf World Cup qualifying matches, Weston McKennie is the conductor. Although McKennie, 23, is enjoying a great campaign for country and club, it wasn’t always easy. After a draw at home to Canada in September, McKennie was expelled by Gregg Berhalter because he had violated the USMNT’s COVID protocol.

McKennie was unable to play against Honduras in the next match, but he returned to the team for the victory over Jamaica in the international window. McKennie was not the only one to be inflicted. In April 2021, Juventus suspended him for hosting a party at his home.

These moments are a sign of growth for young players, and McKennie has proven his reliability on and off the pitch for both club and country. McKennie will play an even greater role in the United States’ crucial game against Honduras, as Adams is unable to attend. At Tuesday’s press conference, McKennie spoke out about his suspension.

“I believe it was a learning experience. I felt as though I was being retrained by the team that it was crucial for me to keep my head down and focus on work. Juventus was very helpful in that. I did struggle for a while, lost my confidence, and it was a learning experience. McKennie stated that I let my team down and let down my country, my team, my family, and myself. “So, when I was called back, it was in order to rebuild trust and relationships with everyone, and to perform, show that my team is there for me and try to win.”
McKennie will need to assume more defensive responsibilities in order to win the match without Adams. His likely midfield partners are Yunus Musah and Kellyn Acosta. McKennie can do this considering that he had the 10th most recoveries in Concacaf’s final round of World Cup qualifying.

The national team’s do-it all midfielder will also need to be the leader off the field. This means Christian Pulisic will have to be there for him, as he has struggled in recent games.

“The most important thing in our relationship is to be there for one another and with the circumstances that he’s found himself in and the amount of play time involved, he’s just trying to get his feet under control and build his confidence.” McKennie said. McKennie said, “But in general, he’s an important piece because, you know? he might have one spark within a game.

What kind of Pulisic can we expect to see on Wednesday?

He could do nothing all the time and still have one spark. He is one of those players who can be very unpredictable to his opponents. I believe he adds an additional level of danger in the last third. Everyone will have their opinions and everyone will say what they like. We all want them to succeed, but you know that the team here and all the staff are back.

To see the bigger picture and to understand the root causes of problems, it helps to take a step back. Pulisic can get back to his best with the support of his teammates. Looking at McKennie, it’s clear that he has become a leader in a very short time span. This track looks set to continue. Although progress is not always linear, we are seeing it unfold before our eyes as McKennie develops.