Yunus Musah (6) shoots the ball while Mexico’s Jesus Corona (17) during a WCQ on Nov. 12. (Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
If he had his wish, Landon Donovan would have Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie and Yunus Musah would play together as many times as possible in the U.S. men’s national team midfield.
Given the modern-day challenges of World Cup qualifying in which Concacaf teams must play three World Cup qualifiers within a week, the specter of COVID-19 and the old stand-by called injuries, that is much easier said than done.
During a recent interview, the U.S. men’s national team legend and current manager of the San Diego Loyal, spoke about who has impressed him in this new generation of players on the squad.
He started off talking about the center backs – Walker Zimmerman and Miles Robinson.
“There are a number who have been, I use the word impressive because you just didn’t know what you were going to see or get from some of these young kids,” Donovan said during a recent phone call. “The center backs actually have very much impressed me. Walker’s been great, Miles has been great.”
Then Donovan moved onto the midfield, singling out 19-year-old Musah, who has become an important part of his club, Valencia, in La Liga and his country.
“I think Musah is probably the guy, more than any other, that I would say has started to make a case that he should be playing all the time,” he said. “When Tyler Adams, Weston McKinney and he played together, that is that is the best I’ve seen the U.S. play with this group of players.
“They complement each other really well. Tyler is very mature and responsible. There’s not a thing on the field Weston can’t do. He’s so incredibly talented and mobile. Musah’s ability to take the ball and run with it, possess it, has been really beneficial to the team.
“That midfield has been great. Yusah has been the one you’d say you weren’t expecting to slide in next to those two but I think he’s been fantastic.”
Musah scored his second goal of the season for Valencia in a 3-2 loss to Atletico Madrid on Saturday.
Donovan added that he was also impressed with the way McKennie has bounced back after he was sent home for breaking team COVID-19 protocol rules during the October WCQ window. He criticized the USMNT midfielder at the time.
But that incident is now in the past after how well McKennie has performed in Serie A and with the national side.
“He made some mistakes off the field, which I was also critical of and I really impressed with how he’s responded,” Donovan said. “It was not easy to deal with. He’s really responded well. I think he’s he’s earned a lot of respect from everybody. ”
McKennie has been on fire lately, scoring in two of the last three matches he has performed for Juventus.
“When he plays this way, there’s there’s not a team in the world I don’t think he can’t play for,” Donovan said. “I hope it continues because it’s been really fun to watch him continue to grow.”
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