First Cap, First Goal for Weston McKennie

When the national anthem played before the U.S. Men’s National Team’s friendly against Portugal, Weston McKennie couldn’t help but smile.  It was a long-awaited moment for the 19-year-old midfielder earning his first appearance at the senior level.

A first cap marks a special night for any young player, but McKennie’s debut made even more of a splash. He scored his first career international goal in the 21st minute, becoming the third-youngest player in the modern era of the MNT to find the back of the net in his first appearance.

“I’m not really known as a scorer, but I’ve tried to work on it,” McKennie said. “I got the ball, took a touch and kept it close to my feet. I saw the goalkeeper cheating a little bit so I just tried to slot it past him and it went in. I’m blessed that I was able to score today on my debut. I look forward to many more.”

Youngest MNT Players to Score in Debut (1990-present)

Player

Game

Date

Age

Juan Agudelo

1-0 W vs. South Africa

Nov. 17, 2010

17 years, 364 days

Landon Donovan

2-0 W vs. Mexico

Oct. 25, 2000

18 years, 241 days

Weston McKennie

1-1 D vs. Portugal

Nov. 14, 2017

19 years, 84 days

The USA put together a string of dangerous forays into the final third during the first 20 minutes of the match, and the red, white and blue broke through in the 21st. C.J. Sapong received a pass on the left wing, dribbling downfield when he slipped the ball past two Portuguese defenders to McKennie. The midfielder used a move to maneuver around another defender, took a few steps to tee-up the ball and slotted it in past the outstretched keeper.

“We want to turn the page and look into the future,” McKennie said. “We had a bunch of new guys that came in and want to prove that they can play at this level and represent the country well. I think tonight was a good starting point for that.”

Having made his debut with Schalke at the end of last season, McKennie has been an integral part of the German Bundesliga side this campaign. He returns to Gelsenkirchen where he’ll look to help the fourth-place Royal Blues in their pursuit of UEFA Champions League football next season.

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