The United States men’s national soccer team will face Panama in the quarterfinals of the 2018 World Cup on Thursday at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia.
Tim Weah has been playing for the United States men’s national soccer team for several years now. Accustomed to the national team since he was a teenager, his career has been interrupted by a six-year period in Europe and a two-year international absence. Now, after a long absence, Tim Weah has returned to the USMNT, and he is looking forward to proving his worth.
A lot has changed for Timothy Ware since his last appearance on American soil. The date was the 16th. October 2018, and the U.S. men’s team has just drawn 1-1 with Peru. His 90-plus minutes came at a time when the U.S. is transitioning to a new generation of players. At the time, Vea was an immature candidate full of hope and potential. Weah was born in Brooklyn and experienced many ups and downs in the later years of his career. He won league titles with Paris Saint-Germain and Celtic, although he admits he didn’t feel he belonged in those teams due to a lack of game time. A disappointing first season at Lille followed, in which he suffered three hamstring injuries and considered leaving. Now Vea is on the other side. In the season just ended, he competed in a new series of championships: Lille withstood a late onslaught from PSG and are on top of the Ligue 1 rankings. Vea could have missed the drama at the end of the race, as his team lost points in the final straight, making the race more intense than it would have been. But in the end Lille managed to beat PSG, the former club of Vea himself and his father George, a former Ballon d’Or winner for Milan who is now president of Liberia. – ESPN FC Daily Stream on ESPN+ (in the US only) – ESPN+ Kijkwijzer: Bundesliga, La Liga, MLS, FA Cup and more It was a much smoother fight, the younger Weah told ESPN of the title fight compared to his previous triumphs. PSG were on our heels and it was a battle. But it was a good story. Even more majestic for Weah is the transition from hope to solid performance. His five goals in 37 games are proof of his constant presence in the Lille team, even if he was sometimes used as a right back. But even those numbers don’t quite add up for him. Observers in France have noticed a more focused player making better decisions on the pitch. A lot has changed for me, he said. I feel much safer now than I ever did before. I feel that I am important for the club and the national team. So it’s a good feeling and hopefully I can continue to make coaches on both sides [of the Atlantic] proud. That is also the opinion of the American coach Gregg Berhalter. He has followed Vea’s development over the past ten months and the player’s growth is clear. Vea threatened to fall into oblivion – another cautionary tale of a young American player who was highly regarded in his youth, but has disappeared. Now he’s an attacker from the cold. He may have players like Christian Pulisic and Giovanni Reina in front of him, but he has taken a position where he can operate in case of injury or a drop in form. And Weah has improved in areas not initially expected. 2 Connected There’s a structure to his game now that I hadn’t noticed before, Berhalter said in a recent interview with reporters. Especially defensively, his team is very, very structured, very well coached. He knows how to push. He knows how to stop certain passes and then apply pressure at the right time. It was very, very nice to see him. When Wia thinks about the past two years, there isn’t enough drama in the world to mitigate the ups and downs he’s experienced. He missed six months at the start of the 2019-20 season with a hamstring injury, and it wasn’t until he returned last February that the muscle signaled again. He also suggested that there would be another setback after that. That was the third time, you know? It was hard to get over it mentally, not be there to play the sport I love and see a lot of other guys come in and not be able to be on the field with them. I think every footballer gives everything after a while. But somehow, Wia knows he’s lucky. In France and elsewhere, people have been affected by the pandemic to a much greater extent than he has. So he reflects with mixed feelings on how it affected him. When Ligue 1 closed its doors for good at the end of April 2020, it was a sledgehammer blow for Lille. The Dawgs missed qualification for the Champions League by one point against Stade Rennais. But for Vea, the break meant he could acquire more product, which is a downside during the championship season. I had a lot of time to focus on myself, get my body in shape, heal my leg, find my new self and become a better person, he said. The pandemic helped me. Lockdown, I was at the gym 24/7 with one of my trainers. Tim Vea helped Lille beat PSG to win Ligue 1 in the 2020-21 season. AP Photo/Lewis Joly Recovering from a muscle injury can be difficult, especially when it comes to the impact on a player’s psyche. Will the muscle heal completely? Can he do a full sprint? Mr Vea maintains that, despite the constant setbacks, he has had no objections. I never thought about hurting myself again, he said. I didn’t hold back and think: Okay, what if I do this? What’s happening to my leg? I’m not going to get hurt again, am I? I hadn’t really thought about it. My thought was this: You’re always pushing the envelope. If it hurts, it hurts, but don’t hold back. Keep moving! So far, everything has gone well. And, you know, I really haven’t had a relapse yet and I feel great. I feel 100% fit and ready to go. The only question is where Vea will play. For most of his club career he played as a winger or second striker, but playing as a full-back has given him a new outlook on the game. That was different. It was great to have everything for us, he said. I liked it. I was a little nervous because I didn’t want to trip up the defense, but it was a great feeling. It was something new. Dan Thomas is joined by Craig Burley, Shaka Hislop and others to bring you the latest developments and discuss key storylines. Broadcast on ESPN+ (US only). Weah’s recovery, along with his versatility, will allow him to help the United States in the upcoming CONCACAF Nations League. Berhalter believes Wee’s best position is yet to be determined. Vea] is aggressive, the U.S. national team manager said. I still think he’s a bit hesitant about which position he feels more comfortable in, second striker or wide receiver. But Vea is determined to be part of the group again, a promising generation. This team will be a force, he said. There is tremendous, tremendous talent on this team. After the last two years, Vea is happy to be back.