With Schalke slumping in a big way since the restart of the Bundesliga–and even before–the club sorely needed a spark, and U.S. men's national team midfielder Weston McKennie delivered it. Only it didn't last.
The Texan's diving header gave Schalke a 1-0 lead vs. relegation-threatened Fortuna Dusseldorf in the 53rd minute of their Wednesday match. Unfortunately for McKennie and his club, that spark lasted all of 10 minutes before Dusseldorf tied it up. And less than five minutes after that, the hosts took the lead.
The American's goal appeared to breathe life into Schalke in the moment, at the very least. To score, McKennie sprang free and got on the end of Bastian Oczipka's free kick, powering home the opener.
The goal was McKennie's second of the season–and his second in four league games, dating back to before the Bundesliga was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. Of the three Bundesliga goals in his career, two have come against Dusseldorf. He previously scored against the club in October 2018.
It wasn't all bright for McKennie on the day, though, as he was on the wrong end of Dusseldorf's go-ahead goal. He was left ball-watching and kept goal-scorer Kenan Karaman onside for the 68th-minute header off a short-corner routine.
McKennie's last-ditch effort to secure the equalizer couldn't come to fruition, as he was the target on a late, curling free kick, only for the Dusseldorf goalkeeper to beat him to the ball at the back post. The win is huge for Dusseldorf, which goes five points clear of the automatic relegation zone and is within a point of moving out of the relegation playoff place. Schalke, meanwhile, is winless in its last nine league games, though it sits comfortably in its mid-table position.
Schalke will look to snap that skid Saturday at home vs. Werder Bremen, while Dusseldorf has a tall task of playing first-place Bayern Munich at Allianz Arena, also on Saturday.