Schalke 'surprised' by U.S. U20 boss Ramos' remarks on player availability
Schalke have said they are "surprised" by U.S. under-20 coach Tab Ramos' claim that they did not want to release midfielder Weston McKennie for the Under-20 World Cup, media director Thomas Spiegel has told ESPN FC.
The tournament runs from May 20 until June 11, but although there are several Germany-based U.S. youngsters eligible to take part, no player from a Bundesliga academy was selected to represent the U.S. in group games against Ecuador, Senegal and Saudi Arabia.
Earlier this week, Ramos hit out at Schalke for not releasing McKennie or Nick Taitague, who play for the club's U19 side. Ramos told reporters: "We didn't get any cooperation from Schalke at all."
He later added that Schalke told him in so many words: "Our U19s are more important than your national team, so they [Taitague and McKennie] are going to stay here until we're done playing."
Schalke's U19 side are currently involved in the Under-19 Bundesliga semifinals, in which they lead Bayern Munich 3-1 after the first leg. The second leg will be played on Tuesday and the final is scheduled for May 22, the same day as the U.S. squad's opener against Ecuador.
Spiegel said the Bundesliga club had informed U.S. Soccer that they could release McKennie for international duty "at the earliest possible moment" -- after their U19 club duties.
"The comments leave us surprised," Spiegel added. "It would have been similar with players of all other nationalities. But U.S. Soccer said that in this case they would not call him up."
With several clubs still fighting for places in the Bundesliga, Germany's World Cup team also faces a selection dilemma. Hertha Berlin, for instance, will send two players, Maximilian Mittelstadt and Jordan Torunarigha, to South Korea, but not before the end of the senior Bundesliga season on May 20, the club told ESPN FC.
Stephan Uersfeld is the Germany correspondent for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @uersfeld.