The USA coach revealed that it was a ‘difficult decision’ to send Weston McKennie away and thinks that the Bianconeri midfielder ‘must earn his teammates’ trust again.’
was dismissed from the USA camp as he broke Covid protocols when he was on international duty.
At first, his violation seemed to have been signing autographs for a few fans without wearing a man, but as per reports from ESPN, the ex-Schalke man committed two different violations.
The 23-year-old was not part of USA’s second game in September against Canada and was expelled before their third clash against Honduras.
First and foremost is it’s an extremely difficult situation that you’re put in,”
told Sports Illustrated.
“You know that this is one of your top players. Not only that, but he’s a great kid. Everyone really cares for Weston.
“And there’s part of it that we’ve been around long enough to know that people make mistakes. Things happen and it’s not about holding it over their head for an extended period, but there should be consequences. And that’s what we kept going back to.
“So when we learned of this, it was about just understanding first. The first thing I did is go to Weston and confronted Weston and say, ‘O.K., did this happen?’ And give him a lot of credit, he looked me in the eye and said, ‘Yes, this did happen.’
“And I said, ‘O.K. now let’s talk about what’s next.’ The first thing is this was the day of the game that we’re having this conversation and I said, ‘You’re not going to be playing this game today. And it hurts me to tell you this, but that’s how it’s going to be.’ And I think that gave us a little bit of time.
“But the next thing was where do you go from there? And then it was about talking to the staff about it and talking about what our values are as a group and what we represent,” the coach continued
“And as we were doing that it started to become more clear what the answer was, and again it’s not to hang Weston out to dry. It’s more of a message of listen, we’re in this intense period of trying to qualify for the World Cup, we all say this is what we want to do, and we know there’s going to be sacrifices that come along with it.
“So we talked with the staff and eventually we came up with the idea that he’s not going to be taking part of any more of the camp, and we’re going to have to move on without him this trip. In the end we felt strong about the decision, we felt sad for Weston but we focused on how do we win the next game after the Canada tie, how do we turn things around and win the next game?
“We purposely didn’t go to the team and ask ‘What do you think should be done?’ Because I don’t think it’s fair to put that on the players to have to make a judgment or a ruling on another player in a circumstance like that.
“I think that’s our role as leaders. But I think from a player standpoint, for me to see that a coach is willing to act even though it may not be in his best interest and then once this is done it’s done.
He was asked what will happen now.
There is a period I think where he’s going to have to earn both his teammates’ and the staff’s trust again,”
“And I think that’s also fair. It’s not something where you say, ‘O.K. we have amnesia, and we act like this never happened.’ It did happen, and now it’s on him to earn everybody’s trust. But it’s not like he won’t be given the opportunity to do so.”
McKennie made a move toJuventus
in 2020 on a loan deal but his move was made permanent on a contract worth €18m this past March. However, his price tag has now reached €30m with bonuses. His contract is due to reach its end in 2025 and he will feature for the Bianconeri in their battle against Spezia.
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