Gregg Berhalter has confirmed that Weston McKennie will start the U.S. men’s national team’s World Cup qualifier against Jamaica on Thursday.
The decision to start McKennie comes as the Juventus midfielder returns to the team after being dismissed for violating team rules during last month’s qualifiers.
But Berhalter has said that McKennie’s punishment is effectively over and the midfielder will now return to the team’s starting XI.
What has been said?
“Weston’s going to start the game tomorrow,” Berhalter said. “He’s been focused coming into this week, and we’re not holding anything against him.
“Is he going to have to rebuild trust over a time period by showing that he’s the leader that we expect them to be? Of course, but there’s nothing held against him.
“It’s not, ‘This action happened, this is who this person is’. That’s what I’ve been saying. We don’t need to jump to that. We need to understand that these are young players that we’re dealing with and this is part of it.
“To me it’s just about tolerance, having a certain level of tolerance with players and with the situation, with the guy’s situations.”
Who else could start for the USMNT?
McKennie is the only confirmed start for the USMNT so far, although one would expect Antonee Robinson to also be in the lineup for the match against Jamaica.
Robinson and Zack Steffen are both expected to not travel to Panama for the USMNT’s second match of the window due to England’s quarantine rules as both players would be forced to isolate upon returning to their club teams.
With regards to Steffen, Berhalter was unwilling to confirm which goalkeeper would start, with the Manchester City star battling Matt Turner for the No. 1 goalkeeper spot.
Berhalter’s lineup could also shift due to the team’s vaccination status, with unvaccinated players unable to travel to Panama. As of Wednesday, Berhalter says that there is one player fully unvaccinated with one other halfway through the vaccination process, although he did not confirm which players they were.