It’s Tyler Adams 1, Weston McKennie 0 in the Bundesliga.
The two 20-year-old midfield standouts for the United States men’s national team faced off for the first time at club level on Saturday, with Adams’ RB Leipzig getting the better of McKennie’s Schalke 1-0 thanks to Timo Werner’s first-half goal:
The home loss was the latest setback in a nightmare season for Schalke, which finished runner-up to mighty Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga last year. The club has been dreadful in the German top flight throughout 2018-19. Schalke fired manager Domenico Tedesco on Thursday after a 7-0 rout by Manchester City in the Champions League, and Saturday’s loss left them 15th in the domestic circuit.
Still, McKennie can be proud of his performance. Deployed on the right side of midfield for caretaker boss Huub Stevens, the Texan was everywhere for the hosts, his industry providing what looked like a hockey assist early on before the apparent opening goal by Mark Uth was called back, correctly, for offside. Later, McKennie would come close to scoring himself only to flash his close-range header just wide.
In more subtle ways, Adams was just as involved for the visitors. The former New York Red Bull, who also played the full 90 minutes, got a scare early in the second half when the video assistant referee flagged play on which the ball hit his elbow inside Leipzig’s penalty area. Upon further review, however, the non-call stood.
In his seventh Bundesliga appearance, Adams led his team in touches and connected more than 90 percent of his passes to help Leipzig leapfrog Borussia Monchengladbach and into third place in the Bundesliga.
Foes this weekend, Adams and McKennie will be teammates for the next 10 days. The pair are scheduled to fly to Orlando, Florida on Sunday ahead on Thursday’s friendly between the U.S. and Chile. The Americans will then head to McKennie’s home state for a March 26 exhibition against Chile in Houston.
“I’ve been watching him with Red Bull Leipzig and I think he’s been doing a great job,” USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter said of Adams earlier this week. Adams, McKennie and Borussia Dortmund’s Christian Pulisic, the national team’s other 20-year-old German-based star, have yet to start a match together for their county. It’s still not clear how Berhalter will deploy the three, and Adams and McKennie in particular. But rest assured that all will be on the field.
“Whether I’m thinking about Weston as a number 10 who then defends as a number eight, or Christian as a number 10 who can also move wide, or Tyler as a right back who can come inside but can also attack overlap or inner lap — those are the kind of things that are exciting to me” Berhalter said. “It gives a lot of flexibility to the team.”
Doug McIntyre covers soccer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.
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