The American influence at Leeds United continues to grow.
The Premier League side managed by former MLS midfielder Jesse Marsch is adding yet another USMNT star to its lineup, as the club announced the signing of Juventus midfielder Weston McKennie on loan for the remainder of the season with an option to buy this summer.
The 24-year-old McKennie rose up through the youth ranks at MLS’s FC Dallas before making the leap to Europe in 2016 with the German Bundesliga’s Schalke. A strong 2019-20 season earned him a loan to Italian power Juventus, where he proved to be a valuable box-to-box player. He was purchased permanently at the end of the season and signed on a four-year contract.
McKennie had worked his way into the USMNT starting lineup by 2019 and became one of the team’s most important players in the run-up to the 2022 World Cup. He started alongside Yunus Musah and new Leeds teammate Tyler Adams in midfield for all four of the U.S.’s games in Qatar, and was one of the team’s best players in the tournament.
McKennie’s move to the Premier League comes during tumultuous times for the Bianconeri. The entire board at Juventus resigned in November, and several months later, the club was docked 15 points in Serie A for alleged false bookkeeping. McKennie had been linked to clubs around Europe for several years. Now, he joins several of his compatriots in West Yorkshire.
Marsch began the American contingent at Leeds when he arrived in the middle of last season. Having most recently been fired after a disappointing stint at RB Leipzig, he entered a difficult situation, succeeding a hugely popular manager in Marcelo Bielsa and needing to lift the team to survival in the Premier League. He did so successfully, and an offseason spending spree saw Marsch pluck Adams (€17 million) and Brenden Aaronson (€32.8 million) from Red Bull-owned clubs that he had previously managed.
The shine has somewhat worn off the initial new-manager bump. Leeds is firmly back in the relegation battle, sitting just one point clear of the drop. Maybe all it will take is some more magic from an American.