USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter finally addressed the Weston McKennie controversy in front of the media ahead of Wednesday’s 2022 World Cup qualifier clash against Honduras.
The Juventus midfielder violated Covid-19 protocol, resulting in an initial suspension for Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Canada before Berhalter dismissed McKennie from the roster entirely on Monday night.
The head coach justified his decision by reaffirming that no single player is above the team or they’re rules.
“When you talk about team policies and team rules and what we’re trying to accomplish as a team, the team absolutely comes first, and we made this decision not only for the short-term but for the long-term health of the program. We’re obviously going to be missing Weston for Wednesday, but it doesn’t rule him out for the future,” said the coach.
Berhalter made it clear with reporters that he would not discuss the details of McKennie’s violation to preserve a level of privacy for his team.
“But this is a team matter, this is stuff that happens within the team. That’s not appropriate to share to the outside world, and I’ll leave it at that because, I think what we do, it’s such a close working environment, and we’re so close together. I think when it’s violated, I think it goes to a point where too much becomes open, and that’s not what we’re about. We’re about the team.”
ESPN and TUDN, however, claim the midfielder broke the USMNT Covid bubble by bringing a person into his hotel room and spending a night outside the camp.
The USMNT head coach insists morale remains high despite obvious complications surrounding McKennie’s sudden return to Turin.
“Morale is great, I mean, I think people make mistakes. Weston apologized to the group, apologized to me, and things happen. I guess the most important message that we’re getting through, or that we’re trying to get through, is that we’re here in camp for seven days. And the intensity is incredible, it’s three finals in seven days, and we need everyone’s single-minded focus on what we’re trying to accomplish. And that’s the most important thing.”
“We didn’t speak to him. We were just obviously told what happened by the coach,” said Pulisic. “We were pretty much forced to look past it, which we have, and we’ll look to what’s important and that’s getting a result [in Honduras].”
The United States men’s national team faces Honduras for their last match of the 2022 World Cup octagonal round, entering with two points in two matches.