Former USMNT head coach and current New England Revolution manager Bruce Arena raised concerns after Weston McKennie’s dismissal from the national team roster amid 2022 World Cup qualifiers, reiterating that no player is bigger than the team.
The Juventus player violated team protocols, leading to an initial suspension from Sunday’s 1-1 draw against Canada before he was cut from the roster entirely and sent back to Turin.
Arena spoke candidly on the subject, insisting that a straightforward approach is necessary between head coach Gregg Berhalter and a player like McKennie.
“You have to sit him down and talk to him and probably talk his language a little bit and make sure you have an understanding,” Arena, a five-time MLS Cup winner, said on a recent episode of The Call Up.
“No player is bigger than the team at the end of the day. He should realize the opportunities that he has that lie ahead. He’s not in a perfect situation now at Juventus, I know, with the change with the manager. He’s moving down the ladder as opposed to up.”
Like Berhalter, Bruce Arena believes the player can still salvage his career with the national team with a stern character adjustment. Prior to the incident, McKennie had proved to be an integral part of the American side by recording seven goals in 24 appearances.
“So he’s got to do a little growing up and it’s all part of the process. I’ve seen that with many players at his age and it takes a little time. Sometimes they get a taste of success early and it goes to their heads a little bit. So he needs to be sat down a little bit and given the riot act. And hopefully he’ll respond in the right way and be a good player for the US for years to come.”
Arena referred to McKennie’s Nations League success to advise players away from overinflated egos on the international stage.
While Berhalter confirmed this incident will not completely cloud the midfielder’s USMNT future, Arena believes he can come back stronger.