Even before FC Dallas sold midfielder Alejandro Zendejas to Chivas Guadalajara last week, Little Elm native and current FCD Academy youth Weston McKennie was a name to watch inside the organization.
With the loss of one homegrown talent in Zendejas, expect another, McKennie, to soon become the club’s latest example of success in producing local soccer stars.
McKennie, 17, joined the FCD Academy in 2009. His family moved from Virginia to Germany and then Texas about a decade ago; McKennie played for Solar’s club team but said making the switch to the Toros was an easy one.
“It was a no-brainer,” he said. “I came from a club with Solar and I knew if I wanted to make the next step to better my career and give myself the best chance to achieve my dream of being a professional soccer player, I knew I would have to switch to a high-level club. … I think I fit right in with the program and the ideas of the program.”
McKennie certainly fits the bill in terms of talent.
Apart from his duties with FCD, McKennie has played for the U.S. Men’s National Team on five different occasions, most recently for the Under-19 squad at the 2016 Slovakia Cup in April.
Not only did McKennie captain the USMNT squad, he also scored twice in the tournament as the red, white and blue took home a 2-1 win over Russia in the final. For his efforts, McKennie was named MVP of the event.
“I went to go represent FC Dallas and my country and family well,” McKennie said. “We went out there and left it all on the field. To be able to captain the U-19s was a really big honor and privilege.
“I was thinking, ‘Man, there are some kids out here who are pretty good.’ When they call out, ‘Weston McKennie, MVP’ I was shocked a little bit. It was a joyful time.”
Currently committed to play college soccer for Virginia, McKennie recently graduated high school via online courses after stops at Liberty and Lone Star in Frisco as part of the Academy program.
While he acknowledged that things can change, right now McKennie is firm in his commitment to join the Cavaliers in the fall.
In the immediate future, however, he’ll add another USMNT cap to his collection this week as the U-20 squad takes part in the NTC Invitational California. Action began Wednesday against Costa Rica.
In terms of a role model, McKennie said he tries to model his game after Andres Iniesta, the Spanish midfielder who currently plays for FC Barcelona.
“I’ve been told many things but I like Iniesta,” McKennie said. “The way he plays … he’s not selfish. He knows how to play a killer path in the final third and that’s what I like doing – being able to create plays and be a playmaker for the team.”
In his player profile on the official FC Dallas website, McKennie lists none other than Zendejas as his favorite player on the Toros’ roster (pending an update after the latter’s departure, no doubt).
Should a call-up to the big club come sooner than later, McKennie would likely have a chance to provide valuable minutes to Dallas in Zendejas’ stead.
Either way, McKennie could very well be the next budding star with that rare “homegrown” tag attached to his development, and that paves the way for speculation in the coming weeks as to whether or not Frisco will be where he makes his MLS debut.
“We would have to sit down and see what the best option is for me, but it would definitely be an exciting moment for me,” McKennie said. “I’m just looking forward to the summer and what it might bring.”