Schalke opened up their preseason with a game against sixth-division side SpVgg Erkenschwick and ran out 9-1 winners. Weston McKennie saw a full 90 minutes and registered 2 assists, while Haji Wright was brought on for the second half, managing 4 goals and another assist in his time there. You can check out the full highlights below, but if you’re just here to see some Americans do good things (no judgment), you can just hit play and the highlights will start at 4:10. We’ve even done the fast-forwarding work for you. You’re welcome.
McKennie is number 2 and Wright is the massive human being wearing number 30. Neither of these players have reached the ripe old age of 20.
Now, as the cell-phone picture and Steadicam technology on display here might suggest, this wasn’t exactly a strong, formal game. Erkenschwick, again, are a sixth-tier side, and playing below the fourth division in any country probably means you’re just a cut above beer league. Schalke’s own team was full of prospects and squad players. That said, slow your roll on the “Haji Wright is Europe’s next big thing” train. Preseason is preseason, and this game will mean almost nothing in a month’s time. Julian Green scored his share of goals last summer, too. Even Wright seemed low-key on the performance, saying he didn’t “want to talk that much about my goals.” However, seeing both McKennie and Wright getting first team minutes in the preseason and making the most of them is undoubtedly a positive, especially with a new coaching staff to impress. Both players are at the crucial stage of development where so many other American prospects have faltered, and gaining real professional opportunities is key for the both of them. Even in a game as small as this one, these performances are important, too.
So, what’s the takeaway from this game? A nice little video compilation of some composed passes and finishes, and a chance to get another chance from new coach Domenico Todesco. At this stage, McKennie and Wright will have to earn everything they get. This is an early chance they’ve been given, but they’ve taken it about as well as they could have.