For the US men’s team, the last cycle of the 2018 World Cup was a disastrous and disappointing one. After failing to qualify (their absence for the first time in over three decades), they are finally returning to the big stage in 2022. The excitement among the fans is evident, and with all this optimism brewing, the fans believe that Gregg Berhalter’s team can do more. than just showing up.
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It has been a difficult journey for the Americans, one that has involved reflection and change not only as a team but also as a federation. Gradually, step by step, the fruits of their labor paid off. From a more aggressive hiring approach to continued growth, Major League Soccer USMNT is reaping the rewards.
For 22-year-old winger Tim Weah, the team’s journey and his own call to Qatar are testament to all of these factors. However, no matter how much he thinks about it, the fact that he is playing in the World Cup seems too surreal to put into words. “This is something I never thought about,” he says. “When I was younger, I always believed that I would enter the professional arena, but representing my country at the World Cup is crazy. I mean it’s a dream come true. This is something that many good players have failed to do. to do and be able to represent my country and my name is amazing. I feel blessed, I can’t wait.”
The Berhalter group has an undeniable ability to shatter some conventional wisdom and cause some noise in Qatar, and Weah – one of the most gifted members of the team – has an important role to play. Patience was a necessary virtue, however, as a foot injury kept him out of the September international window and his club Lille in France’s top flight was out until last month.
In his second appearance since recovering from injury, he provided two assists in just 25 minutes against Strasbourg and in the club’s game against Rennes he was man of the match, playing as a support right back, showing how adaptable he can be to the situation. . right wing. Last Sunday, in the match against Angers, he once again demonstrated this, winning 1-0.
Things are finally looking up for Weah, but as far as he’s concerned, he’s never been one to get too carried away. Step by step is his philosophy. “I just take it day in and day out right now. I feel completely blessed. It’s something I’ve been working towards for a long time so it’s great to see so many great things coming together so I’m happy,” he says.
“Blessed” is a word you often hear when talking to Weah, who doesn’t have the typical experience of being a professional footballer. Born in New York to a Jamaican father with a Liberian father (George Weah, the only African to win the Ballon d’Or and the current president of Liberia), he has lived in many countries since the age of 14, including France. old, Weah’s outlook on life is much more mature than most 22-year-olds.
I had this opinion back in 2018 when I first met him and he was only 18 years old. Four years later, his values remain the same. There may have been zeal in his energy then, but now he seems extremely down to earth, confident in himself and his mission.
“I’m definitely more mature than we last met,” Weah says. “At that time I was just starting with PSG, then it all started with the national team and everything developed very quickly. There were a lot of things, but now I am very zen. Much more mature. into meditation so that my mental state is at its best.” Weah’s meditation is disciplined. Every day after training, he takes time to meditate and decompress, but at the same time he uses it as an exercise to express gratitude for everything that has happened in his life.
“I close my eyes for a minute and think about how blessed I am and how lucky I am to have what I have,” he adds, and describes how he also practices grounding exercises, a therapeutic technique that, it helps reconnect, he says. with earth. In grounding – also called earthing – exercises are based on the earth’s electrical charges and how this can have a positive effect on your body. Thanks to this, the energy that the body receives helps to restore the natural defenses that are transferred to the immune system. Like an antioxidant, but here your only tool is the earth itself.
“I think we forget how beautiful the earth is and the energy that the earth gives, it’s a lot of healing energy and I definitely used it.” I push him to his outlook on life, because as a 22 year old, why does he feel like he has to be constantly grateful? Why is it so important to him that he outwardly express his gratitude? This is certainly a great feature, but is there a specific reason for all this?
“Football aside, I grew up as a person in a family where my parents were nothing. Obviously, I was lucky that they had the opportunity to make ends meet. My dad was what he was, one of the greatest players in the history of the game, my mom was a hard worker, went to school, now has her own business, but the family moral we had is something I really learned.
“Respect for everyone is the foundation of hard work. I don’t take anything for granted. When I go back home to Liberia you see so many people struggling and as athletes and successful young people we tend to forget how lucky we are to be in the position we are in because back home in New York, I can walk around the corner, and someone is very bad. getting everything I need and basically…working hard.”
His work ethic is very similar to his football on the pitch. Ruthless and purposeful. What’s also important to him, with more eyeballs constantly following his every move due to his father’s political career in Liberia, is that his friends, teammates and coaches know exactly who he really is. Wea has no facade.
“Tim has to be one of the most sincere people I know and that’s what I appreciate about him,” says Mark McKenzie, who plays for Belgian side Genk and, unfortunately, did not receive a call to Qatar. Mackenzie was also born in New York and has known Weah since she was 10 when they met at a regional talent camp. Due to their competitive nature and similar personalities, an instant bond was formed between the two.
“I agree 100 percent with his sense of appreciation, he always expressed it, even when we talked about life and the travels we’ve been on,” Mackenzie says. “We are lucky to do what we do and he has always made it clear that he cannot take it for granted because of the many ups and downs that come in life. Meditation and grounding are not new to him, and finding that inner peace amidst the hectic nature of the football world… I’m a Christian and much of my meditation comes from spending time reading my word and praying, which we also share.”
The USMNT will face a tough group at the World Cup as England, Wales and Iran show their worth in the tournament, but there are other hurdles for the Americans. Firstly, this team is comparatively very young and the overall experience of international competition, especially outside of North America, is still their proverbial training ground.
The story from outsiders is that this World Cup is too early for the Americans, as the average age of the team is 25 and only three team members are over 30. One of the goals is to use this experience as a dress rehearsal, a test. the race for 2026, when the US, along with Mexico and Canada, will host the World Cup.
“Honestly, I don’t really listen to all this,” Weah says with a smile. “I think that even though we are young, many of us play in our clubs and get a lot of experience. I mean, I don’t think age plays a role at all. day. We’ve had a lot of ups and downs in qualifying and we can’t let that happen at this World Cup. Everything must be positive, from how we defend to how we attack. We just have to be perfect… there’s a lot of energy in the team, a lot of young players who want it, we’re all hungry and we just need to apply it.”
Wea has the same approach to all opponents. There are no favorites, nothing has been written yet. Everything is there to take right now. “We have a pretty tough group, but I think any group at the World Cup is tough,” he says. “Obviously you have teams that people expect to succeed, but I don’t think so. Every game should be treated like a final. Football in the World Cup is very different from a club where you know what you’re getting. from many teams. You can’t make a mistake, because if you do, other teams will benefit. You have to go there fully focused, humble, but also go with the swagger that we have. You just need to execute.”
England, the rival they face the day after Thanksgiving, is embarrassed by the wealth but often lacked that particular mentality to just kill teams and win everything. “I think they have gained respect for us to see them like England,” Weah says. “When you look at a team, guys like Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Bukayo Saka, you know there’s a threat out there, but we just have to worry about ourselves, worry about how we’re going to play. and execute the way we want to execute. The history between the USA and England goes far into the past. I think this game is made to show off.”
Apart from England, if USMNT makes it out of the group, Weah hopes to also face France, a team and country he greatly admires. “I would like to play against them because I have a French passport and I have been playing in France since I was 14 or 15. I have connections with some of the players on this team and they are also the winners of the last World Cup. , I think it’s…