US Star Mark McKenzie is Genk’s Most Expensive Player Ever

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With the likes of Christian Pulisic, Zack Steffen, and Josh Sargent amongst the many American talents looking to make a splash in the Premier League this season, it’s time to have a look at the future USMNT internationals who are plying their trade on the continent.

There’s not only the multitude of American youngsters at every level of football in Germany, but there are also future USMNT stars plying their trade all across the vast European football landscape in the 2021/22 season. 

MARK McKENZIE

Mark McKenzie is a name that should be familiar to MLS fans worldwide. He is the second most expensive center-back in MLS transfer history. The Bronx native has gone on to make himself a regular squad player for KRC Genk in Belgium’s top flight.

COLLEGE/BETHLEHEM STEEL

Having remarkably already made his professional debut for the Steel by the time he entered college, McKenzie went on to make 16 appearances for Wake Forest University in his short time there. After one season with the Deacons, he signed a homegrown contract with Philadelphia Union.

PHILADELPHIA UNION

McKenzie made 20 appearances in his rookie year in Philadelphia. He was so highly regarded that season that he earned a nomination for the 2018 MLS Rookie of the Year Award. 

It wasn’t all roses for McKenzie at the Union however as he lost his place in the starting lineup the following season. He even surprisingly lost his place in the squad completely for a period. Some concussion issues and the club looking at imports to fill the centreback role contributed to this brief blip in his MLS career.

His relentless work ethic and determination to succeed would see him return to the starting lineup and maintain his spot on the team. McKenzie appeared for the Union in their ultimately unsuccessful Playoffs run which ended in defeat to Atlanta United.

The following season saw McKenzie really develop as a footballer and hold down his position at centreback despite fierce competition. The accolades came thick and fast for the then 21-year-old defender in that COVID-affected season.

Along with winning his first piece of silverware – the 2020 Supporters Shield –  Mark was also nominated for defender of the year.

He also shared the distinction of being named in the MLS Best XI that season with teammates Andre Blake and Brenden Aaronson. A place in the Best XI for the ‘MLS is Back” competition was also awarded to the talented centreback.

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KRC GENK

After the accolade-laden success of his previous season, Mark McKenzie made a €5.45M move to Belgian Pro League side KRC Genk. After a brief settling-in period, he made his debut in a 3-2 loss to Club Brugge.

McKenzie went on to make 8 league appearances in the latter half of the 20/21 campaign, going on to win the Belgian Cup in his debut year. The beginning of the  21/22 campaign has seen him become a regular starter for KRC De Smurfen making 4 appearances out of a possible 5 in the league as of the 20th August 2021.

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USMNT STORY SO FAR

After making international appearances at almost every age group level, Mark McKenzie made his debut for the Senior Men’s National Team alongside fellow Union teammate Brenden Aaronson against Costa Rica on December 20, 2018. He has gone on to win 6 caps for the national side. 

Mark’s determination to succeed and his almost unrivaled work ethic make him a shoo-in to be a superstar of the European game and a stalwart of the USMNT for years to come.

USMNT Golden Generation Profile Series

Christian Pulisic      Gio Reyna      Sergino Dest    Weston McKennie    Zack Steffen    Tyler Adams

USMNT Stars in the Making Series

Yunus Musah     Reggie Cannon    Mark McKenzie    Brendon Aaronson   Chris Richards  Tim Weah

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