Schalke’s Weston McKennie calls return to action in Bundesliga ‘awkward’

USMNT and Schalke midfielder Weston McKennie shares what it was like to get back on the pitch in the Bundesliga.
Jan Aage Fjortoft explains why the Bundesliga’s return brought relief for other leagues hoping to restart.
Borussia Dortmund dominate Schalke 4-0 and Bayern Munich restore four-point lead with 2-0 win vs. Union Berlin.

Schalke and United States midfielder Weston McKennie described his return to action in the Bundesliga on Saturday as “awkward.”

McKennie, 21, and his Schalke team were on the wrong end of a 4-0 scoreline to Borussia Dortmund at the Westfalenstadion as Germany‘s top flight began play following an eight-week layoff due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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“It was awkward, you know, it felt like soccer but it didn’t feel like soccer,” McKennie told ESPN’s Taylor Twellman. “No fans, not really an atmosphere [in stadiums], you have to really depend on your own motivation and drive to give 100% in the game.

“Obviously we took a big loss in the Revierderby and you can tell we’d been out of it for a long time.”

The match was played with no fans in the stands, everyone except players on the pitch wearing masks and restrictions in place on goal celebrations, all of which lent itself to the awkward nature of the day, according to McKennie.

“Like I said, everything is opening back up over here again and the warmer weather has helped make it feel like a brighter mood,” McKennie said. “We are still stuck inside though and having to take the precautions we need to to carry out the season, so going into the game it was awkward. You hear every voice in the stadium, you hear every ball get kicked.”

Goals from Erling Haaland, Thorgan Hazard and two by Raphael Guerreiro saw Dortmund keep their spot in second place in the table, while Schalke finishing the weekend in eighth place. And McKennie admitted his team were far from where they needed to be.

“It was definitely not our best day at the office for sure,” McKennie said. “We didn’t play with the passion that was demanded for the game. There wasn’t a lot of motivation.

“For me, I may not have my best game, but motivation wise, I tried my best. But we were late to every ball against Dortmund. It was different as a collective, as a team. We thought it would have turned out better. But it was one of those days that things didn’t click for us.”

McKennie, who has three goals and six assists in 84 games at the club, and Schalke return to action on May 24 with a match against Augsburg.