After an international window that saw the Lille striker emerge as a top attacking force for the United States, Tim Weah gave his thoughts on the closing draw in Jamaica, and how he sees the team synergy developing as they race towards Qatar.
On the heels of The Yanks’ third win this year against Mexico, the commanding 2-0 victory in Cincinnati last Friday, this team went from elation to reality several days later when they were forced to work hard to even hold onto a draw in Jamaica
“Obviously, it was a rough game, not the result that we wanted,” Weah said to the press. “Coming into the game we wanted to win, we knew it was going to be difficult and Jamaica made it very hard on us.”
Nonetheless, the start was promising, with the 21 year-old already netting an opener in the 11th minute, however, a moment of brilliance by Michail Antonio to pull Jamaica even shortly thereafter shifted the momentum.
“I feel like at the start of the game we started off dominating a bit, got the goal, and then Jamaica bounced back and got the goal,” he reflected.
“It was just about who wanted it more and I feel like both teams wanted it,” Weah admitted, elaborating “Conditions were rough but that’s no excuse. We wanted to execute but it wasn’t that today.”
With CONCACAF being as unpredictable as it is competitive, a point away, is a point away, and can be considered a good result when considered in a vacuum.
“We just have to stay positive, keep the positive energy in the group and just continue on that,” the Lille striker stated. “We took a positive out of it, that we didn’t lose, we got a point out of it, so we just need to bounce back next camp.”
Going from the chill of Cincinnati to the tropic heat of Kingston in a few short days will affect performance, both physical and mental. This certainly played to Jamaica’s advantage in the draw. This factor is something that Weah especially sees as a keen factor for competing within CONCACAF.
“Personally, I always feel like it’s always a winning mentality for me. I feel like we could have done more in the game, but when you come to these hot countries, fatigue does play a part, [and also] playing these games so close to each other.”
However, Weah’s goal, as well as his 18 year-old teammate Ricardo Pepi’s help in the buildup, were the highlights of the match for American fans. Pepi contributed on the give-and-go to spring Weah into the area, the Liberian president’s son had a split second, and an even shorter angle to take that shot, but adeptly put away his attempt in a memorable, clutch moment.
“Most of the time it’s really difficult obviously because I’m right footed. My natural instinct is to cut in and shoot and hit it with my right foot, but Pepi played it back to me with an amazing pass,” Weah described of the play that led to the goal.
“I saw the defender, I saw [Bobby] De Cordova, read the pass in front of me and got the ball on my left foot. I just knew that I had to take my opportunity, and shot the ball across the goal.”
“It went in fortunately for us, and I’m really happy to contribute to the team.”
Reflecting on qualifying so far and looking forward to the broader picture, when it comes to away games, Weah was quick to point out that he sees great progress in the team’s performance, even with Tuesday’s minor disappointment.
“I think we’re growing,” he spoke of the overall squad. “[With] each camp that we come in, each of the games that we play, we grow.”
Describing how this has shown in recent away games, he explained, “Obviously like you saw last time, we went away to Panama in similar conditions and we lost. This time we came out we came out with the tie, so it’s definitely a positive to take away from that.”
As Gregg Berhalter recently concurred in his comments to the media, this squad has definitely galvanized, and there is a new spark of unity among The Nats, something which Weah also points to as a key factor in their future success.
“The energy that I get from the boys is amazing each time I come into camp, and just being with them is a blessing. It just shows on the field that we have really good connections.”
Overall, the point earned in Kingston, an improvement over their previous away outing, a 1-0 loss in Panama, was an effort enabled by growth of the full team, a fact that definitely did not go unnoticed by the player.
“They’ve had a huge contribution to my growth on this team,” he spoke of his teammates, elaborating more specifically, “Just looking at DeAndre Yedlin, from the first day when I came to that first camp, he brought me in as his brother, and has continued looking out for me while I’m on the team.”
“That’s what they did for me, that’s what I want to do for the other guys as well,” he continued. “I think it just builds a proper dynamic for a team. It’s just a great environment and I’m blessed to be a part of it.”
“Each day I wake with a smile knowing that I’m here competing with the best, and playing with the best, and we’re all just a big family. I love them and we just have to continue doing what we do, and it’ll be a positive outcome.”
The synergy Weah describes is palpable among the men, as is evidenced by their recent play, and the closeness described in nearly interview by the players. The test in Jamaica was a very tough draw, but one they survived together. The field conditions are frequently not ideal in this atmosphere, notwithstanding the change in climate, yet it’s these very difficult matches that will pave the way for this group as they continue their march towards Qatar.