If you’ve been paying attention to U.S. Soccer over the past three or four years you’ll know that American soccer’s governing body is no stranger to conflict with German clubs regarding the call-ups of players for international duty. In the past there have been issues with John Brooks, Timmy Chandler, and Fabian Johnson being called up to the senior team. Over a year ago, Hertha Berlin publicly denounced U.S. Soccer’s handling of Brooks and an injury he was dealing with. That drama has now spilled over to the Under-20 level.
On Tuesday, Tab Ramos revealed that he received no cooperation from Schalke when attempting to call up Weston McKinnie and Nick Taitague for the U-20 World Cup roster.
“In terms of the European clubs, we didn’t get any cooperation from Schalke, at all, at any time for their players,” Ramos told reporters. “And we had very little cooperation from Fiorentina about Josh Perez.”
He later added that he felt the club’s position on youth national team call-ups were that they should play secondary to their U-19’s in the German U-19 Championships.
“Our U-19’s are more important than your national team, so they [Taitague and McKennie] are going to stay here until we're done playing,” Ramos suggested.
A couple of days later, Schalke have responded by saying that Ramos’ comments surprised them and that they had every intention of releasing the players to U.S. Soccer at the earliest possible date (after U-19’s are finished).
"The comments leave us surprised. It would have been similar with players of all other nationalities. But U.S. Soccer said that in this case they would not call him up.” — Schalke media director Thomas Spiegel; Source: ESPNFC
It seems like an unfortunate situation of timing that is leaving the young players to suffer and not get to play at the World Cup. Schalke play Bayern Munich’s U-19’s in the second leg of the U-19 Championship semifinals on Tuesday May 16. They lead on aggregate, 3-1. If they advance to the final, it would likely overlap with the USA’s first group World Cup group match on May 22. It remains to be seen if McKinnie and/or Taitague could be late additions to the roster.