Auston Trusty, Mark McKenzie gel in first USMNT pairing
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Auston Trusty, Mark McKenzie gel in first USMNT pairing

Mark McKenzie and Auston Trusty’s relationship goes back to their time within the Philadelphia Union academy and after several seasons of playing apart, the duo returned to the field together on Friday for their first successful pairing with the U.S. men’s national team.

Trusty made his senior debut for the USMNT in Friday’s 7-1 Concacaf Nations League victory over Grenada, while McKenzie earned his first start since October 2021. Both worked seamlessly in Anthony Hudson’s backline alongside Bryan Reynolds and Joe Scally as the Americans clinched a berth into the Concacaf Gold Cup with the result.

After not playing alongside one another since the 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs. McKenzie and Trusty rekindled their chemistry in an important win for the USMNT, providing Hudson with a glimpse of a possible long-term partnership.

“The thinking behind it wasn’t because they had played together in the past, but because we thought this would be an interesting pairing,” Hudson said about the duo postmatch. “We’ve been following Mark and he’s been doing well this season and with Auston we thought he deserved a chance. I’m really pleased for both of them and I am really confident with both of them.

“With Auston, when it comes to aerial duels, one-on-one battles, and defending space behind the backline, I have no problem with him,” Hudson said about Trusty. “We’re really pleased for both of them and we feel we have some fresh legs to come on and have them help in the next match as well.”

Both McKenzie and Trusty have come into USMNT camp off the back of impressive individual seasons in Europe for their clubs. McKenzie has continued to be a first-team regular with Belgian league leaders Genk, logging 29 appearances to date, and keeping his squad in the lead to capture the league title.

Trusty joined English Premier League side Arsenal last summer and after joining Birmingham City on loan in August, the 24-year-old has been one of the Blues top Players in the English football League Championship with 41 appearances and four goals. Both McKenzie and Trusty delivered top performances against Grenada, with Trusty assisting on the USMNT’s fourth goal, and McKenzie rarely putting a foot wrong against the Spice Boys.

Tim Ream and Miles Robinson will be fighting to start Monday’s group stage finale in Orlando against El Salvador, but McKenzie and Trusty certainly boosted their stocks to start once again if needed.

John Dorton/ISI Photos

“As far as Mark McKenzie, I thought he came in and did what he needed to do,” USMNT midfielder Weston McKennie said. “The same goes for Auston Trusty, obviously it’s always a big deal coming in and getting your first cap. I mean we let up one goal, but at the end of the day, the goal was to come here and get three points and I think they both contributed very well. They kept the backline nice and tight, winning the first duels, and not making it easy for Grenada to play over the top of them. Overall hats off to them.”

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