FRISCO — Weston McKennie, Little Elm’s own, won’t bedazzle the home folks this week in the CONCACAF Gold Cup. He’s not even on the national roster. Both McKennie and Christian Pulisic, the U.S.’ best players abroad, are fresh off a hectic club season in Europe and in need of a little il riposo, apparently.

This latest omission isn’t fraught with anxiety like the last time McKennie was left off a national team. That snub came before he captained the U-19s to the 2016 Slovakia Cup title. Before he bypassed FC Dallas and Virginia for the Bundesliga and history as the first American to wear Juventus’ black and white. Before he became such a big deal in Italy, his dogs give him away.

Before he saw Ronaldo in his underwear.

“Oh my goodness! This is really him!”

Any way you look at it, it’s a long way from Little Elm to Turin. The route took him from Texas to Germany at the age of 6; back to Frisco and FC Dallas Academy at 11; a U-turn to Germany at 17; then, in August, at 22, to a pitch beside the world’s most photogenic athlete.

Such an unlikely path from small-town Texas kid to world-class midfielder was not without travails. His failure to make the U-17 World Cup team in 2015, for instance, was a fork in the road:

Continue his worldly ways?

Or go back to Texas?

He chose the academy where he cultivated what would have once seemed an inconceivable dream, and it’s made all the difference since.

“They helped me through a lot,” he said. “I went through some rough times with the U-17 team.

“They helped me put the pieces back together mentally and emotionally and physically as well.”

A late bloomer

Weston McKennie
Weston McKennie(

Had Weston McKennie’s father not been in the Air Force, the McKennies probably wouldn’t have moved to Germany and Weston wouldn’t have had to find something to play besides American football and he wouldn’t be a budding international soccer star.

What would he be doing instead?

“I’d probably be playing American football, to be completely honest,” he said. “I’d be sitting here at 200 pounds.”

NFL football?

“I think I could have made it to the NFL if I’d stuck with it,” he said. “I’m one of those guys, whatever I do, I give a hundred percent to it.”

Even as a kid in Little Elm, he was so committed that after soccer he’d change into his football pads in the car while his mother drove him to his next game. He loved football. He’s reportedly a Washington fan; his father favors the Cowboys. But when the family moved to Germany, there was no place to play American football. Soccer became No. 1. Probably helped that he was a prodigy.

His first game, he scored eight goals. He was so good, he played up in age. Upon his return to Texas, he played as an 11-year-old at the FC Dallas Academy on 13-U

A young boy traveling in Hawaii with his family died after contracting COVID-19 — the state’s first pediatric fatality from the coronavirus.

The child reportedly had an underlying medical condition and was traveling with his parents, both fully vaccinated, according to Hawaii News Now.

The boy’s age was not disclosed, but UCSF infectious disease expert Dr. Peter Chin-Hong said he was likely under 5 years old, since individuals over the age of 5 are tested upon arrival in Hawaii, per travel protocol.

The case follows several others involving children in the United States in recent weeks. A child who died from COVID-19 in Michigan became the third reported pediatric death in the state over the course of the pandemic — but the first where the child didn’t have underlying health conditions.

When it comes to children, far fewer have tested positive for the coronavirus compared to adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most of those children have mild symptoms or are asymptomatic, but some can get severely ill.

However, deaths among children from COVID-19 are rare. Mortality data in the U.S. found that children made up at most 0.19% of all COVID-19 deaths. And up to 0.03% of all pediatric COVID-19 cases were fatal, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 296 children have died from COVID-19 as of last week. In comparison, flu-related deaths in children during regular flu seasons have ranged from 37 to estimates of 600 each year, since national reporting of pediatric flu deaths began in 2004, according to data from the CDC.

But Bay Area experts warn that parents still should take extra precautions to protect children who are unvaccinated against COVID-19, particularly if there are underlying health conditions or they live in regions where coronavirus cases are surging.

Bay Area infectious disease experts say the cases underscore the need for vaccinations overall and are also a reminder that despite many gains, we still are in the midst of a dangerous pandemic.

“It’s important to remember that although California is doing extremely well right now — wonderfully well — the U.S. as a whole has the number of cases we had at the height of the summer surge,” said UC Berkeley infectious disease expert Dr. John Swartzberg. “We still have an awful lot of people infected in our society, which means that there’s still a tremendous potential of encountering those people.”

The U.S. is reporting an average close to 60,000 new cases a day, and policies from the CDC still advise against nonessential travel.

In Michigan, which is struggling to contain a surge of cases and hospitalizations from COVID-19, state officials have expanded their mask mandate to include children as young as 2 years old in public spaces.

Experts don’t recommend parents have children under 2 wear masks in public settings, but rather continue to practice the same risk-mitigation measures that have become standardized throughout the pandemic: social distancing, hand hygiene and ventilation.

HONOLULU — A child who traveled to Hawaii with his vaccinated parents has died after contracting COVID-19.

The Hawaii Department of Health said Tuesday the boy is under 11 and had known underlying conditions.

“While we mourn all victims of COVID-19, today’s announcement of the death of a child from this virus is especially heartbreaking,” Gov. David Ige said in a statement. “Dawn and I express our deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of this child.”

It was the first coronavirus-related death of a child in that age range in Hawaii.

There have been 479 reported deaths linked to COVID-19 in the state.

Department of Health spokesman Brooks Baehr said the child began to show symptoms shortly after arriving in the state and was taken to a hospital, where he later died.

The child’s parents were fully vaccinated and were tested for COVID-19 before traveling to Hawaii.

“I can confirm that both parents had been tested and both had tested negative,” Baehr said. “Which indicates that this child was not infected by COVID from the parents.”

People traveling to Hawaii are able to use a negative coronavirus test to be exempted from the state’s 10-day quarantine rule for incoming travelers. Children under 5 are not required to be tested prior to arrival. Baehr did not know if the child had been tested.

“While the parents appear to have taken the steps to insulate the child from COVID by, you know, getting vaccinated and they were tested before they came, this child still somehow was infected with the virus and eventually succumbed to it,” Baehr said.

No further information about the case was released because of privacy laws, Baehr said.

“Anyone who may be on the fence on getting vaccinated could look at this and go, ‘oh, my goodness, I want to protect myself, but I want to protect, you know, my loved ones and really people I don’t even know,'” Baehr said.

Hawaii details plans:For COVID-19 vaccine ‘passport’ for travelers