Today is the USMNT’s first game back on the pitch since The Loss. From the ashes of such a debilitating defeat, the young and relatively unheralded group interim manager Dave Sarachan put out to face Portugal had a chance to win back some of the fan base’s faith. Which they did! Until they didn’t.
The positive first: In today’s starting lineup was one Weston McKennie, who as of right now is probably the USMNT’s second-most promising young talent behind the wonderteen. McKennie is a 19-year-old central midfielder from Texas who plays for the proud, historically revered, but currently sort of down German club, Schalke.
And when I say “plays for,” I really mean it. McKennie has made it onto the pitch for seven of Schalke’s 11 Bundesliga matches this season, playing as a starter in four of them. He’s highly regarded round those parts, and the mere fact that he’s already getting significant minutes for a very good club in a great league means he’s already on more solid footing than a couple other supposed Next Big Things in U.S. soccer. Suffice to say, this kid is worth some hype.
And in his first USMNT cap today, McKennie paid back some of the expectations us youth prospect watchers have placed on him, scoring a neat and tidy goal to give the U.S. the lead:
Technically speaking, this doesn’t really matter a lick. This is very much a Portuguese B-team competing against an America C-team, and we’re so far away from the U.S. playing games that actually matter that nothing that happens on the pitch for the next year or two will have much of any bearing on whether U.S. Soccer gets its shit together and starts doing the things needed to ensure what happened this World Cup qualifying cycle never happens again.
But still. American soccer fans have been so damn down since getting knocked out of the big show that we need a little pick me up. And here’s McKennie! A legit prospect with considerable upside! Just a teen! Already doing good shit for a club that actually matters! And now turning up and balling in a USA jersey! Maybe there’s hope for the future after all!
Following this brief period of excitement, fellow lauded U.S. prospect, goalkeeper Ethan Horvath, went and did this:
I’m sure everything will be fine.