USMNT ‘retained’ from direct play in matches against El Salvador, Canada

MINNEAPOLIS — Juventus and United States Men’s National Team midfielder Weston McKennie says the United States needs to take better advantage of its transition opportunities when it faces Honduras in a match. qualifying for the World Cup on Wednesday.

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The United States struggled for goals against El Salvador and Canada, with Antonee Robinson’s tally against the Cuscatlécos the only goal the United States managed to score in both games. Against Canada in particular, the United States seemed oddly reluctant to pick up the tempo in transition. This is an area where McKennie thinks the team can improve.

“We’re a young team. We’re a team that can run. We’re a team that likes to push,” McKennie said in a Zoom call with reporters on Tuesday. “We’re a team that are the most efficient and create a lot of our chances by winning balls and putting pressure and going straight for the goal. I think we’ve kind of held back on that the last two games and don’t haven’t used him to his full capacity I guess. To be effective in the final third and score the goals and the chances that we get, if it’s once or twice a game, I think it’s very important to ‘to be efficient.

McKennie was also asked about his two-game suspension in September for violating the team’s COVID-19 protocols. He expressed regret for his behavior, which according to ESPN at the time included bringing an unauthorized person inside the team bubble, as well as spending a night outside the team bubble.

“I think it was just a learning lesson, obviously,” he said. “I think coming back it was just important for me to put my head down and work. Juventus definitely helped me a lot with that. I struggled a bit, lost some of my confidence and like I said it was a I felt like I let my team down and let my country, my family and myself down So every time I was called back , it was just to try to rebuild relationships and trust with everyone and just perform and show that I’m here for the team and then I’m here to try to win And so I think the best thing to do as a person is to be available. So I think that was my biggest thing is just to be available and not have another situation like that.”

Team USA’s problems on offense aren’t limited to how they execute in transition. Christian Pulisic’s play has come under scrutiny as the Chelsea striker has looked way below his best.

“We’ve all had ups and downs. We’ve all had tough times,” McKennie said. “The most important thing is that we’re there for each other and obviously with the situation he’s in, maybe the playing time involved is just gaining his footing and then strengthening his But I think, in general, he’s still a big part because he’s one of those types of players that could have a spark in a game… he might not be able to do anything the whole game and then have a spark. He’s one of the very unpredictable players for the opponents. And I think he’s just someone who adds another kind of dangerous one-on-one ability in the final third.”

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