Tim Weah: “It’s going be huge and I think it’s not just for our team but for the whole United States of America.” (FrontRowSoccer.com Photo)
By Michael Lewis
When the U.S. men’s national team congregates together to watch the UEFA Champions League final Saturday, they players will have a rooting interest.
Not for Manchester City or Chelsea, but for American soccer.
After all, it’s not every day a U.S. player performs in the final of the most prestigious continental club competition on the planet. As it turns out, this is the first time an American can compete in the final.
A pair of Pennsylvania natives will find themselves on opposing sides.
Representing Hershey, Pa., Chelsea midfielder-forward Christian Pulisic could very well become the first USMNT to play or start in a UCL title encounter.
Hailing from Coatesville, Pa., Manchester City goalkeeper Zack Steffen most likely won’t see any action as he has been the back-up to starting keeper Ederson Moraes, a Brazilian international.
Regardless of who raises the coveted trophy and takes home a winner’s medal, U.S. soccer already has triumphed, two of their teammates claim.
“It’s going be huge and I think it’s not just for our team but for the whole United States of America,” forward Tim Weah said via a Zoom conference call with the media Friday afternoon. “It’s going to be something that’s big. This is first time you have to be an American in a Champions League final. We have two. So, you know the cup’s coming home.
“I’ve talked to both guys and I just told them, ‘I’m supporting both you guys. I don’t have a team that I’m supporting but just go get the chip. make history and come back in camp and let’s make some more history. Let’s enjoy it. It’s going to be big for the boys now seeing two of our big guys on that on that stage is going to push a lot of us to continue playing at a high level and playing just good football. Super happy for them and I wish them the best of luck.”
Defender Reggie Cannon also understood what the game meant.
“It’s a tale of two worlds because you always go into a game rooting for one team,” he said. “Two of brightest players and best friends playing against each other in final, which is an incredible feat for an American. We’re very excited to see and watch the game. But Zack and Christian, we’re proud of you.
“Only one can come out on top, obviously, but we’re very excited to watch you guys play. We know all that you’ve done for American soccer and ultimately for us and erasing the stigma that Americans can’t play football. So, it’s incredible. You guys have the highest level and ultimately in one of the world’s greatest events. We’re very excited to watch you play and can’t wait.”