USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter has revealed that the decision to send Weston McKennie back home was because the team comes first and added that it was not an easy decision to make. The Juventus midfielder breached the team’s COVID-19 bubble on two occasions during the international break.
While Weston McKennie was called up, reports, before the US men’s national team’s (USMNT) game against Canada, indicated that the midfielder wasn’t set to play. That was later confirmed by the lineups with the Juventus midfielder reportedly suspended for breaching COVID-19 protocols. That was also later confirmed with McKennie stepping outside the USMNT bubble before bringing back an unauthorized individual back inside on a different evening.
Both incidents breached the USMNT’s COVID-19 protocols although head coach Gregg Berhalter declined to answer any queries. However, with McKennie now sent back home by Berhalter, the USMNT head coach has revealed that he did it for the team and for the “long-term health of the program.” Berhalter also added that the decision to send McKennie home was not an easy one to take but he did it for the “good of the group”.
"I think when you talk about team policies and team rules and what we're trying to accomplish as a team. The team absolutely comes first, and we made this decision not only for the short term but for the long-term health of the program. And it's not an easy decision," Berhalter said, reported Goal.
“Trust me. Countless coaches are faced with decisions where they have to take talented players out of the lineup for some reason or other, but we did it for what we think is the good of the group and the team. It is what it is. We're obviously going to be missing Weston for Wednesday, but it doesn't rule him out for the future, but we know that we're without him on Wednesday."
This is not the first time happening to Weston McKennie, with the midfielder’s off-field behaviour reportedly a cause for concern from both Juventus and now the USMNT. The 23-year-old was caught at a party with Paulo Dybala and Arthur, in April of this year, which also saw him suspended by then Juventus boss Andrea Pirlo. But Gregg Berhalter admitted that the midfielder will have a chance to make his way back into the national team fold as it's based on “performance”.
"If you've been watching the moves that we've been making, how we've been talking to people. it's an open-door policy. There will very rarely be a situation where a player would never be allowed back into national team camp.
“That's not how we operate. If you see the track record, it's that guys are in based on performance and based on how they're doing. Me and Weston had long conversations. He's a guy that I care for deeply. He's a big part of the team and I'm sure when he's performing well he'll be back on the team,” he added.