McKennie, Dest fit for World Cup opener vs. Wales

AL-RAYYAN, Qatar — United States men’s national team duo of Weston McKennie and Sergiño Dest agreed to head to Wales for Monday’s World Cup opener.

McKennie had picked up a hamstring injury in recent weeks but with club club Juventus and USA working together to monitor the midfielder’s progress, he has steadily increased his fitness.

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“It’s been a good week,” said McKennie. “Obviously in my personal position or how I’m doing or how I’m doing in terms of recovery, I’ve done well, I’ve come in at a controlled pace.

“Juventus and the national team have both worked together to make sure I’m 100 per cent fit here. So I came in, just waited a few days and kept it under control. We played the friendly the other day.” and i felt good. I felt ready to go, and here I am.”

Similarly, Dest suffered from muscle fatigue and had been training indoors apart from his US teammates since arriving in Qatar.

“I feel good,” he said. “Of course I was a bit tired after the last game. Things are going well at the moment. I’m ready to play.”

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Details have emerged from Thursday’s clash against Al-Gharafa SC – although the USA still publicly say it was a “training exercise” – with the Qatari club revealing that the USA won 6-0.

“It was a great scrimmage. We took a lot from it, defensively and offensively,” said defenseman Aaron Long. “The finish was great. Obviously we had a few goals in there to give the guys confidence in front of the net.”

Now the focus is firmly on Wales and how USA will attempt to break through what is likely to be a five-man defense in a bid to get the tournament off to a flying start.

“As a team, as a group, we just want to focus game after game,” said McKennie. “Obviously with Wales first there is no way we can look past them because we know they are a strong team.

“We know it’s going to be a tough game. But we really want to win the first game to get three points. [It’s been] Only three, four years of work to this point, I think all the guys are ready to go and the staff are ready to go and put a game plan together. We’re so hopeful that we can do that.” McKennie, Dest fit for World Cup opener vs. Wales

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