Schalke: Weston McKennie needs the Jermaine Jones treatment

Weston McKennie of FC Schalke 04 (Photo by ANP Sport via Getty Images)
Weston McKennie of FC Schalke 04 (Photo by ANP Sport via Getty Images) /

Schalke have experimented a good deal with finding the best set-up this season, but it’s time to start building that around Weston McKennie.

You couldn’t find a more dedicated Schalke man than Weston McKennie. Every word out of his mouth is praise for the city, the club, the fans. He recently commented that his style of play matched the city of Gelsenkirchen, he pointed out how he wanted to stay a Blue for life when he signed his new contract, and don’t even get me started with his efforts on the pitch.

For being so young and such a firestarter, McKennie is a remarkably reliable presence on the pitch. You know exactly what you’re getting out of him. He has a very distinguishable brand.

Whether he’s playing rightback, or centerback, or central midfield or wide midfield, he is going to attack the ball like it personally insulted him and he is going to leave nothing behind. His aggression and determination are exactly what his American predecessor Jermaine Jones became known for and it’s working the same with McKennie.

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But I have to wonder how long it will take before McKennie starts getting the Jones treatment of being a centerpiece, not a complement.

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Not like there’s any hurry, since McKennie is such a dedicated servant to the club, but there’s something exciting about knowing who the club is built around, what they are building towards, so on and so forth. And right now, McKennie is kind of just a floater. He fills in when and where it’s necessary.

Now, granted, this year has been a bit of a unique case given the sheer magnitude of injuries, but I’m ready for a midfield built around McKennie the same way it was built around Jermaine Jones. That doesn’t mean much of a change, really, it just means giving McKennie the same treatment that Omar Mascarell gets.

A midfield base of McKennie and Mascarell is ideal. The defensive assistance, McKennie’s willingness to get forward and Mascarell’s responsibility staying back. The determination from both men and their fearlessness in style. It’s built for success against any opponent.

To be fair, David Wagner has done his best to keep some regularity in the club but, again, injuries always managed to get in the way.

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Still, only nine of Schalke’s 25 matches have begun with McKennie and Mascarell serving as the midfield base. Would you believe they’ve only lost one of those nine matches and won five?