Disappointing defeat for McKennie, Kutucu loses on his U21s debut
Five Royal Blues played for their national sides on Friday evening and Saturday morning, without tasting much success. Weston McKennie suffered a disappointing defeat with the US against Mexico, while Ahmed Kutucu was also on the losing side on his Turkey U21s debut. Amine Harit (Morocco) picked up a draw, while Benito Raman (Belgium) and Juan Miranda (Spain U21s) didn’t play for their respective nations.
USA vs. Mexico rivalry renewed
The two nations met only two months ago in the final of the Gold Cup, with Mexico beating USA 1-0. This morning’s game was the 70th meeting between two of international football’s greatest rivals.
Mexico started the better side and took the lead in the 21st minute through Chicharito, the former Bayer Leverkusen striker. Weston McKennie played the full 90 minutes as his side fought back and made several good chances after their lacklustre start. Mexico, however, were able to add two late goals on the counter to seal a 3-0 win, while Bremen striker Josh Sargent also missed a late penalty.
Weston McKennie will not take part in Wednesday’s game against Uruguay (11/9). After speaking with national coach Gregg Berhalter, he will return to Schalke a few days early.
Kutucu makes his debut for Turkey U21s
Ahmed Kutucu’s rapid rise continued as he earned his first call up to Turkey U21s. The Gelsenkirchen-born striker had previously played for the U17s & U19s too.
Their first Euro qualifier came against England U21s and Kutucu also started, although his side also conceded an early goal like McKennie’s US side. Turkey equalised in the 25th minute and then subsequently went ahead in the second half. The ‘Three Lions’ then turned the game on its head with two goals in two minutes (74’, 75’) to seal a 3-2 win.
Kutucu played all 90 minutes and will also return to Gelsenkirchen earlier than others – Turkey’s next competitive fixture is in October.
Raman in the Belgium squad for the first time
It was no great surprise that new signing Benito Raman was called up to the Belgium squad after his excellent performances for Fortuna Düsseldorf last season. The 24-year-old earned his first call-up for the internationals against San Marino (6/9) and Scotland (9/9), which was a big thing for Raman: “This just shows all the people in Belgium that never believed in me that they were wrong. It also shows that I’ve taken the right steps in Germany.”
Belgium comfortably defeated San Marino 4-0 in a Euro qualifier, meaning they have won each of their first five qualifying games so far. Benito Raman didn’t come off the bench, although that’s not the end of the world for him: “I’m ready if the coach needs me, but I won’t be disappointed if I don’t get any minutes.” Raman could get his debut against Scotland on Monday.
Harit draws with Morocco – Miranda doesn’t feature
S04 attacker Amine Harit was delighted to be back in the Moroccan national set up after missing out on the Africa Cup of Nations. Harit played 69 minutes in a friendly against Burkina Faso. Both teams played an even game with both goals coming in the final 20 minutes. Harit is also available for the second friendly against Niger (10/9).
Juan Miranda, who joined the Knappen on deadline day on loan from Barcelona, is currently away with Spain U21s. The 19-year old has previously played for all of Spain’s youth sides from U17s upwards. Spain defeated Kazakhstan 1-0 in a Euro qualifier, although Miranda wasn’t included in the squad. Spain’s next game is against Montenegro on Tuesday (10/9).