Pulisic and McKennie meet as opponents in Italy before reuniting as teammates for the US

Published Categorized as Football No Comments on Pulisic and McKennie meet as opponents in Italy before reuniting as teammates for the US
Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie

Weston McKennie remembered the first time he met Christian Pulisic when they were both 13 years old, riding a bus from a hotel to a training camp in Carson, California.

“I used to sit behind him. I used to squirt empty air with a little bit of water into his ear,” McKennie recalled. “I was scared to take the elevator, so he used to walk with me up the stairs, like 11 flights of stairs, after training all the time.”

Now, after twelve years, they are key players on the U.S. national team gearing up for the Copa América and the 2026 World Cup. But before that, they’ll be facing off as opponents when Pulisic’s AC Milan takes on McKennie’s Juventus on April 27 or 28, with both teams vying for second place in Italy’s Serie A.

“It’s more fun playing with him, so I don’t have to worry about him offensively,” McKennie joked during a conference call on Tuesday to discuss the upcoming match.

Both players experienced ups and downs in their careers, finding success as young American talents in Europe, struggling in their early 20s, and then bouncing back in the 2023-24 season for their best performances yet at the age of 25.

Under coach Stefano Pioli, Pulisic has excelled, scoring 10 goals in Serie A and 13, surpassing his previous bests of nine league goals and 11 with Chelsea in 2019.

He’s been given a run of starts on the right side of the attack—although U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter usually prefers him on the left—and more recently, he’s been moved to a central attacking midfield role.


Pulisic found his confidence again. “I don’t think it’s crucial to pinpoint exactly why I’ve been scoring more goals or finding success,” he said. “Sometimes it comes and goes in players’ careers, and we both needed to rediscover that, and fortunately, we did.”

Hailing from Hershey, Pennsylvania, Pulisic made his debut with Borussia Dortmund at just 17 in January 2016 before moving to Chelsea for the 2019-20 season.

He made history as the first American to play in a Champions League final in 2021, winning a medal. However, he faced challenges with playing time in 2022-23 under his third manager in four seasons.

In his 2022 autobiography, Pulisic revealed his battle with depression in the winter of 2020-21. While Pulisic is known for being open and reflective, McKennie is the outgoing one on the U.S. national team.

“I might have a different approach from Christian in that I prioritize happiness,” he said. “I want to feel like I’m in a familiar environment because being away from family a lot, I need to feel at home with people I get along with.”

McKennie sees the upcoming match as a chance for “bragging rights,” while Pulisic sees it as an opportunity for some video game fun when they get together. McKennie jokingly mentioned missing ranch dressing and Cheez-Its in Italy, teasing Pulisic about keeping the crackers away from him.

“You can’t give the Cheez-Its to Christian. He’ll devour them,” McKennie said. “That’s not true,” Pulisic replied with a laugh. McKennie pointed out that Pulisic’s move to Serie A has been great, mentioning that Pulisic even gets to live on a golf course.


Pulisic talked about the shift in mindset and lifestyle in Serie A, expressing his happiness about feeling like part of a family and the trust and confidence he receives from a top team.

McKennie, who was born in Fort Lewis, Washington, spent much of his youth in Little Elm, Texas, before leaving the FC Dallas academy and starting his professional career at Schalke in Germany at 18.

He joined Juventus on loan for the 2020-21 season and signed a four-year contract in March 2021. Despite facing challenges and a loan spell at Leeds during the 2022-23 Premier League season, he returned to Juventus and excelled this season under coach Massimiliano Allegri, leading the team with seven assists in 30 Serie A matches.

McKennie admitted to struggling with confidence during the summer, but he recalled a conversation with Allegri at the start of preseason training last summer, where Allegri joked with him about running throughout the season. McKennie joked that he takes Allegri’s advice seriously.

While McKennie has overcome many challenges, he still hasn’t conquered his fear of elevators. “I still jump out of the elevator when too many people get in,” he said. “I spend the whole time waiting.”

Tyle Adams and Weston McKennie

Both discussed their pride in representing the U.S., highlighting the team’s performance in Qatar two years ago, where they reached the second round before being eliminated by the Netherlands.

“With how we played in 2022, I think we showed the world that we can compete and we’re not just seen as a team that gives up easily,” McKennie said. “We have the talent, but now we can also play well.”

He expected tougher competition at the Copa América, where the U.S. faces Bolivia on June 23, Panama four days later, and Uruguay on July 1 to finish the group stage.

“This summer will be another great challenge for us, and we can show a different side of our team,” McKennie said, chuckling, “a bit more physical side — I don’t want to say aggressive.”


By Ritik

Ritik Katiyar is pursuing a post-graduate degree in Pharmaceutics. Currently, he lives in Srinagar, Uttarakhand, India. You can find him writing about all sorts of listicle topics. A pharmaceutical postgrad by day, and a content writer by night. You can write to him at [email protected]

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *