Weston McKennie, wearing a mask in this photo when he was at Juventus, is out of the Canada match. (Photo courtesy of Juventus)
By Michael Lewis
Even before the opening kickoff of the team’s World Cup qualifying match against Canada, the U.S. men’s national team suffered two big losses.
Weston McKennie was not included on the game roster for Sunday night’s Concacaf Octagonal in Nashville, Tenn. after he violated a team policy concerning COVID-19.
Gio Reyna has suffered a right hamstring strain and has been ruled out of the Canada and Honduras matches. USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter is considering bringing other players in, depending if they can make an impact.
McKennie certainly was missed Sunday night.
“Unfortunately I am suspended for tonight’s match due to a violation of team COVID protocols. I am sorry for my actions, I will be cheering hard for the boysy tonight and hope to be back with the team soon.”
Reyna and McKennie are two of the best attacking threats the USMNT has and their absence hurt the Americans’ chances even with the return of Christian Pulisic.
“It was a team policy and I’m not going to get into specifics about it and I will leave it at that,” Berhalter said.
“I’m sure he wanted to be out there with the boys today.”
It was not immediately known if McKennie would be available for the Honduras game.
“Obviously, it’s not an ideal situation, because he’s such an important player important character to this team,” he said. “He brings obviously what he does on the field but even off the field how close he brings the team together. It’s a little disappointing but it was that next man up mentality.”
In April, McKennie was suspended for Juventus’ match against Torino as he hosted a party in violation of local COVID protocols in Turin.
McKennie held a party with teammates Paulo Dybala and Arthur, with about 20 others reportedly in attendance. They faced fines from local police for breaking the restrictions, which have outlawed parties throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time, Italy’s curfew was set between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.. Police were reportedly called to McKennie’s residence at around 11:30 p.m.
The USA already was missing goalkeeper Zack Steffen, who was ruled out of the final two qualifiers in the September series after he tested positive for COVID-19.