FC Schalke 04 announced that Weston McKennie “suffered a ruptured ankle ligament” and that he is departing the U.S. national team “to begin his rehabilitation in Gelsenkirchen.” He was injured in the 1-0 friendly victory over Ecuador, landing awkwardly after challenging for a header in the 64th minute. The 20-year-old midfielder required the use of a stretcher to leave the field. Steven Goff of The Washington Post reports that McKennie has a “moderate to high degree left ankle sprain” and is “expected to miss several weeks”, but the “foot and ankle specialist found no fractures”.
U.S. Soccer previously announced that McKennie would be travelling “with the team to Houston for further evaluation.” According to Avi Creditor of SI.com, Cristian Roldan will be his likely replacement in the midfield.
McKennie has dealt with several injury issues during his young career. In 2017, he suffered a partial MCL rupture in his right knee. A right adductor injury reportedly kept him out of last October’s national team friendlies.
McKennie’s injury comes at an incredibly inopportune time for his club. Despite finishing in second place in the Bundesliga last season and advancing to the knockout round of this year’s Champions League (where they were routed 10-2 on aggregate by Manchester City), Schalke is currently engaged in a fight to stay in the top division. Die Königsblauen have 23 points from 26 matches, a mere three points above VfB Stuttgart and a spot in the relegation play-offs.
The Texas-born McKennie joined Schalke in August of 2016 and has made 54 total appearances for his club, playing in the midfield and on the back-line. He’s expected to be a key player in the national team set-up, as the program attempts to rebuild following the failed 2018 World Cup qualification campaign.
UPDATE: Jeff Carlisle of ESPN reports that McKennie “is expected to miss the remainder of the Bundesliga season”. Provided his rehabilitation goes according to plan, he will be able to participate in the CONCACAF Gold Cup with the national team.
Berhalter said re: McKennie injury, difference in language btwn Schalke's release & what US Soccer is saying is "semantics. It's an ankle sprain." In terms of returning in time for the Gold Cup, GB says with an injury like this McKennie will have to take it "week by week." #usmnt— Jeff Carlisle (@JeffreyCarlisle) March 25, 2019