U.S. Abroad: Teens promoted to Schalke first team

American teenagers Weston McKennie, 18, and Haji Wright, 19, have been promoted to Schalke 04's first team by Coach Markus Weinzierl and will join the team for the 2016-17 season finale at Ingolstadt.

The move comes two days after the end of the U-19 campaign for McKennie, Wright and fellow American Nick Taitague. Schalke 04 lost to Bayern Munich in a shootout after their semifinal series ended 5-5. McKennie and Wright have previously trained with Schalke 04 during international breaks.

McKennie joined Schalke last summer from FC Dallas, where he was the star of its highly regarded U-18 academy team. Wright has been at Schalke 04 for several seasons but only signed after he turned 18. He had 12 goals in 26 games for the U-19s in 2016-17. McKennie, a defensive midfielder, scored four goals in 18 games. Taitague joined Schalke when he turned 18 in February and made eight appearances.

U.S U-20 coach Tab Ramos said he wanted to consider McKennie and Taitague for his U-20 World Cup roster but got no cooperation from Schalke 04, which said it was ready to release them after the end of the U-19 season. By then, the USA had already left for South Korea, where it opens against Ecuador on Monday.

A third player, German Luke Hemmerich, earned a promotion to the first team from the U-19s.
7 comments about "U.S. Abroad: Teens promoted to Schalke first team".
  1. Quarterback TD, May 19, 2017 at 10:13 a.m.

    Is the U19 a fully professional league ? Also when promoted do you get a pay increases or are these Germans screwing these kids for money on the down low ?

  2. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, May 19, 2017 at 2:04 p.m.

    Yes, these are professional players. I doubt there is a salary increase but potentially an appearance bonus or win bonus if they actually get on the field. No one is getting "screwed".

  3. Quarterback TD replied, May 19, 2017 at 4:14 p.m.

    Fire, I got the true answer from Bob instead of your once again made up Disney world fairy tale..

  4. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, May 20, 2017 at 1:25 p.m.

    It's not false - I said they were pros and they are. They also are not getting a new contract simply for making the first-team squad for one game and Bob didn't say otherwise. Man, I can't wait for you to stop following soccer. Just a few more weeks most likely.

  5. Bob Ashpole, May 19, 2017 at 3:30 p.m.

    Q TD, I don't think it really matters, but technically there is no "U19" professional league. There are 3 professional leagues, Bundesliga 1, 2 and 3. There is a U19 competition between teams fielded by Bundesliga clubs. Generally speaking, the U19 players are professionals under contract to the club still in development, i.e., haven't been promoted to the first team. I suspect reserves (higher status than youth team) of appropriate age play U19 matches if not selected for a first team match. I also suspect players who are promoted to the first team commonly receive new contracts reflecting their new status. Being promoted to the first team is great but not the same thing as being selected as a starter.

  6. Quarterback TD replied, May 19, 2017 at 4:12 p.m.

    Understood-- so Academies and this pro U19 are not related correct ? Maybe this is what MLS needs to establish.. an academy system strictly for MLS with a pro U19 inter league establish for the players that have moved to pro. The his will ensure that the best players are under contract and don't fly over to Europe, in addition it establish a base where players play at a lower professional level instead of sitting on the bench.. it sickens me that so many academy players are on the bench and when given the opportunity falters..

  7. Bob Ashpole replied, May 20, 2017 at 4:48 a.m.

    I don't follow you. Competitions are related to training. This is the club's description of their academy program. http://www.schalke04.de/en/club/youth-academy/knappenschmiede/page/1003--1003--.html Keep in mind that exact organization varies club by club. Also there is some overlap rather than bright lines. Today player x may be a 17 year old youth academy player, but he may be practicing with the first team this week and playing in a U19 match. Next week he may be back training in the youth academy.

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