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U.S. youth Weston McKennie impresses on Schalke debut

Schalke coach Domenic Tedesco praised Weston McKennie's performance. Photo: FC Schalke 04/Rehbein.

BERLIN -- U.S. youth international Weston McKennie drew praise after making his first start for Schalke's senior side in the 2-0 DFB Pokal win at Dynamo Berlin on Monday night.

With Germany international Leon Goretzka still working on returning to full match fitness following a muscle injury in preseason, 18-year-old McKennie won his first start for Schalke as they beat fourth-tier club Dynamo Berlin 2-0 at the Jahnsportpark.

The midfielder, who debuted for Schalke in the final match of the 2016-17 season, took to the field alongside former Tottenham player Nabil Bentaleb. With the game locked at 0-0 after 54 minutes, Goretzka replaced McKennie after what had been a good debut.

Schalke coach Domenic Tedesco said McKennie's substitution had been planned, explaining: "It was important for Leon to play more than the 30 minutes he had at Crystal Palace, and it would have always been like this, independent of the result.

"It underlines that Weston was not substituted because of his performance. He did a very, very good job. He won several balls, helped us to outnumber the opponent several times. He has a super pressing game, and also showed several good things when in possession. It was all very positive."

Over 14,000 spectators attended the first-round cup match -- the highest attendance for 10-time GDR champions Dynamo since the fall of the Berlin Wall and Germany's reunification in 1990.

While it remained peaceful inside the Jahnsportpark and its surroundings, Berlin police took 91 Dynamo supporters into custody hours before the match and several kilometres away from the stadium.

A police spokesperson told German wire dpa on Tuesday morning that the supporters had arranged a fight with their opponents and were taken into custody to avert danger.

Stephan Uersfeld is the Germany correspondent for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @uersfeld.

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