October 16, 2021

Berhalter hails McKennie’s ‘professional’ performance in USMNT return

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The midfielder shined alongside Tyler Adams and Yunush Musah in a win over Jamaica

Gregg Berhalter praised Weston McKennie for a “professional” performance after the U.S. men’s national team midfielder returned to the team in Thursday’s 2-0 win over Jamaica.

Led by two goals from Ricardo Pepi, the U.S. took down its CONCACAF opponent in McKennie’s first game back since being dismissed from the team last camp due to a rules violation.

All week, Berhalter has said McKennie’s punishment is now long over, and he was full of praise for how the midfielder has conducted himself both on and off the field since returning to the team.

What did Berhalter say?

“It’s not easy, right? It’s not easy to come back and play these games,” Berhalter said. “He knew a lot of eyes are going to be on him and the way I would characterize his performance is professional.

“To give a really professional job in this game, it wasn’t the top level that he can produce but it was up there, and I think he had an excellent performance.”

A full-strength midfield

On Thursday night, Berhalter and the USMNT got their first look at a full-strength midfield since 2020 as McKennie, Tyler Adams and Yunus Musah all starting together for the first time this year.

Adams captained the team from his typical No. 6 position, receiving a bloody lip in the first half, while McKennie was steady just in front of him while completing over 90 percent of his passes.

Musah, though, stole the show with his dynamic runs forward troubling Jamaica all night.

The Valencia star helped set up the USMNT’s first goal, putting Jamaica on the back foot to help kickstart Pepi’s opener.

Musah’s status was up in the air heading into matchday after an inconclusive Covid test, and Berhalter says he didn’t know if he’d have Musah available until 6:45 p.m. on Wednesday.

“I pulled him aside before dinner,” Berhalter said, “and I said, ‘You’re going tomorrow, you’re negative’. And it was great. You have to take the precautions and we were a little worried but it was great that he got to play.”

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