Berhalter says banished McKennie could be welcomed back

Sep 7, 2021, 4:45 AM | Updated: 4:50 pm

SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras (AP) — Weston McKennie could be welcomed back to the U.S. national team in the future, coach Gregg Berhalter said after banishing him from a pair of World Cup qualifiers for violating team COVID-19 protocols.

“The team absolutely comes first, knowing we made a decision not only for the short term, but to the long-term health of the program, and it’s not an easy decision,” Berhalter said Tuesday, a day before the Americans play Honduras. “Trust me, countless coaches are faced with decisions where they have to take talented players out of the lineup for some reason or other. But we did it for what we think is the good of the group and good of the team.”

ESPN reported McKennie spent a night outside the team’s COVID-19 hotel bubble in Nashville, Tennessee, and also brought an unauthorized person to the hotel on a different evening, the latter also reported by TUDN. Berhalter declined to detail the violations.

“It doesn’t rule him out for the future,” Berhalter said.

McKennie, among the top American players, started last week’s 0-0 draw at El Salvador. He did not dress for Sunday’s 1-1 tie against Canada in Nashville, then was told Monday to return home.

“People make mistakes. Weston apologized to the group. He apologized to me, and things happen,” Berhalter said. “I guess the most important message that we’re getting through, that we’re trying to get through, is that we’re here in camp for seven days and know 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.”

Berhalter has what he referred to an “open-door” policy, although in the past that has referred to players falling in an out of form and returning from injury.

“Me and Weston had long conversations and he’s a guy that I care for deeply,” Berhalter said. “He’s a big part of the team. And I’m sure when he’s performing well, he’ll be back in the team.”

Goalkeeper Matt Turner said McKennie addressed the team as a group.

“He was able to say what he needed to say to us,” Turner said. “There needs to be a precedent set at some point when it comes to this virus. It’s about the bigger picture. There’s rules in place and I think it’s definitely a wakeup call in general, just not only for us as a soccer team, but for the population, that this this virus is still out there, it’s rampant and you need to take it seriously.”

McKennie apologized in a statement Sunday. The U.S. Soccer Federation did not make him available to media.

McKennie’s agent, former U.S. player Cory Gibbs, did not respond to an email seeking comment.

A 23-year-old from Fort Lewis, Washington, McKennie missed Juventus’ derby against Torino in April after violating COVID-19 protocols in Italy. He has seven goals in 25 international appearances.

Midfielder Brenden Aaronson said the team’s attention was on the match against Honduras.

“I think we’ve moved on,” he said. “Yeah, he made a mistake, but everybody makes mistakes, and he’s going to learn from it, and he’ll come back from it.”


More AP soccer: and

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]
1 month ago
Joe Jarzynka...
Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]
1 month ago
FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...
Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]
1 month ago
Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...
Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]
1 month ago
FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...
Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]
1 month ago
FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...
Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]
1 month ago
Berhalter says banished McKennie could be welcomed back