Schalke's Weston McKennie "completely convinced" USA will qualify for the 2022 World Cup
Schalke and USA midfielder Weston McKennie believes his country will recover from the disappointment of missing out on the 2018 FIFA World Cup by reaching for the next tournament in four years.
The 19-year-old was not part of the national team pool during Russia 2018 qualifying, but scored on his USMNT debut against Portugal in November 2017 and has since been a regular in interim coach Dave Sarachan's squads.
Watch: McKennie was in fine form at Schalke's 2018/19 Media Day
I’m completely convinced that we’ll be back in 2022," he told Schalke's official website. "We’re a hungry group who understand each other very well. A lot of our players are at big clubs and gaining important experience. Personally, I think upcoming games in the Champions League will help me to grow even more as a player and a person.”
McKennie is one of a quartet of young USA internationals plying their trade in the Bundesliga this season, alongside Hannover's Bobby Wood, Werder Bremen teenager Josh Sargent and Borussia Dortmund's Christian Pulisic.
McKennie's optimism is backed up by the fact that the former trio all featured in an impressive 1-1 friendly draw against a full strength France side in early June, just a month before Les Bleus went on to win the World Cup in Russia.
And while Pulisic is undoubtedly the team's leading man, his supporting cast are more than capable of holding their own at international level: Sargent found the net on his senior debut against Bolivia in May, Wood scored in a friendly defeat to the Republic of Ireland in early June and McKennie has made a spot in central midfield his own.
That is something he is eager to do for Schalke too in 2018/19, and is unfazed by the prospect of competing with new signings Omar Mascarell and Suat Serdar, who arrived over the summer to replace the departed Leon Goretzka and Max Meyer.
“Honestly, I think [the competition] is the same as last year and I don’t worry about it," he said. "I’ll continue to work hard and give my all in training. In the end, the coach decides who plays. We all have to accept his decisions. But obviously I want to play as often as possible.”