Union stadium

The sheer will and endurance 

Philadelphia Union center back Mark McKenzie is the only Union CB to play every minute of this season. And, McKenzie continued his streak on Tuesday after playing a full 90+ minutes against New York. Athletes who are known not to miss games get infrequently credited for doing so.

But, McKenzie’s case is different. Ever since the COVID-19 outbreak, athletes found it challenging to go to the gym and stay in shape. Sports leagues across North America shut down their facilities to their athletes to prevent the spread. For McKenzie, that didn’t stop him due to his commitment to his team. 

Shutting off the outside noise 

With that, it should come to no surprise why the 21-year-old is drawing attention from Europe. Interest from Scottish giants Celtic has been on the rumor mill. It could be challenging to shut off the outside noise and focus on the now. But for McKenzie, focusing on the MLS season hasn’t been a challenge whatsoever. When I asked him and Brenden Aaronson how they’ve been dealing with the outside noise after a 0-0 draw against the Revolution, McKenzie said that he’s focused on the task at hand. “At the end of the day, we have a job, and that’s to go out on the pitch each and every day. Give it our all for the club, you know, we came up under this badge.”

McKenzie is focusing on the now. Simply put, he wants to bring glory to the Philadelphia Union. “We’re going to do everything that we can while we’re still wearing this badge to get points, win games, and to bring trophies back to the club.” McKenzie wants to play European soccer. A video on social media surfaced of McKenzie walking out to the UEFA Champions League anthem in the Union locker room. But, what he said after the Revolution game shows McKenzie’s character and why he wants to bring hardware to his current club. That’s the attitude that all athletes should possess.

Crediting the given advice 

McKenzie credited his teammates on finding balance despite transfer rumors. “We have a good group of young guys and veterans. Guys who’ve been through this and guys who are currently going through this. I think having that balance is the key in the midst of everything going on.” For McKenzie, having a group of players to lead him, and Aaronson, in the right direction in terms of their careers is crucial.

It suffices to say that McKenzie is in the right direction. He is a Union player, and though transfer rumors are sky-high, he wants to win now. For him, humility goes a long way. “At the end of the day, you have to keep your head down and do your job to the best of your ability.” And with that, the sky is the limit for the 21-year old center back.

Click below to read Sergen’s previous article on Brenden Aaronson and Mark McKenzie, the young stars of the Philadelphia Union.

Brenden Aaronson and Mark McKenzie, young stars of the Union and USMNT, make the#MLSisBack Tournament Best XI