Berhalter and McKennie discuss McKennie’s discipline ahead of big test in Honduras
Details have emerged of the violation of United States Men’s National Team rules that caused the coach Gregg Berhalter suspends star midfielder Weston McKennie of Sunday World Cup qualifying draw with Canada and send him back to Juventus ahead of Wednesday’s massive game in Honduras.
Sources told ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle that McKennie spent a night outside the team hotel bubble and brought an unauthorized visitor to his hotel room overnight, highlighting danger the team’s COVID status with Zack Steffen already missing with a positive test and Christian Pulisic returning from a test-induced dismissal with Chelsea.
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“When you talk about team policies and rules and what we’re trying to accomplish as a team, the team comes first,” Berhalter said, declining to confirm Carlisle’s details on the McKennie offense. “It’s not an easy decision believe me, but we did it for what we think is the good of the group and the good of the team. We’re going to miss Weston on Wednesday, but that doesn’t rule it out from the future.
Berhalter later said: “Of course” when asked if he has a future with the team, saying “It’s an open door policy and there will very rarely be a situation” where players would not be allowed to come back into the fold.
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“He’s a guy that I love deeply and a big part of the team,” Berhalter said. “When he performs well, he will be back in the squad.”
USMNT captain Christian Pulisic said the team did not speak to McKennie before the Juventus player was sent back to his club and did not answer part of the question asking if the team agreed with the punishment.
“We haven’t spoken to him,” Pulisic said on Tuesday. “The coach obviously told us what had happened. Yeah, we’ve pretty much been forced to look beyond what we’ve done, and we’re going to look at what’s important and that gives a result.
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Pulisic also said McKennie’s absence wouldn’t be a distraction for the mental part of Wednesday’s preparation.
“This is what we do for a living. It’s a normal thing. Things happen, things happen outside of the game, but it’s our job that when we get on the pitch we’re ready to give 100%, ”said Pulisic.
Berhalter also said he is not worried about the McKennie issue affecting the team.
“Morale is good,” Berhalter said. “Weston apologized to the group. He apologized to me. The most important message we get is that we are in camp for seven days and we need everyone to be focused on what we are trying to accomplish. Sometimes when people are not, you have to apply standards. It’s upsetting for me, for Weston, for the players and staff, but we’ll be ready to play tomorrow.
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Berhalter and McKennie discuss McKennie’s discipline ahead of big test in Honduras originally appeared on NBCSports.com