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
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.”
“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