While he doesn’t look happy, Tim Weah celebrates his goal. (Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
In many ways, Tim Weah had it coming and going for himself of the United States’ 2-1 World Cup victory over Costa Rica Wednesday night.
Only five minutes before kickoff at Lower.com Field, Weah discovered he was going to start for the U.S. men’s national team after Paul Arriola suffered an injury during warm-up.
Midway through the second half, head coach Gregg Berhalter was ready to pull the 21-year-old forward. Fortunately for the Americans, he stayed on long enough to put the winning goal on target in the 66th minute.
“It doesn’t always happen like that,” Berhalter said.
But at the end of the night, Berhalter was happy it did.
“The team didn’t skip a beat,” he added. “We go in locker room. Paul’s out, Tim’s in, it’s completely normal. That’s what I’m saying is that everyone on this team expects that they can be playing and expects that they can be starting in the game.”
When Berhalter told Weah, a former B.W. Gottschee standout, he was going to be a part of the Starting XI, Weah was surprised, but was ready to play.
“It was kind of a rush,” the one-time Rosedale, N.Y. standout said. “I had to warm up, get ready quick but mentally I was prepared for this game. Coach gave me the task. I just needed to focus and then just get to get in with the boys and do what we have to do.”
Berhalter said Lille forward applied what was talked about at meeting Tuesday.
“It was great to see him actually applying that to his performance today because he was disappointed with the performance in Panama,” he said. “He really responded with a great attitude and good performance. So happy for him, happy that he got the goal and happy that wouldn’t make that sub two minutes [earlier].”
Needless to say, so was Weah, who could not help but notice that forward Matthew Hoppe and defender DeAndre Yedlin were warming up and realized his playing time was almost over.
“It’s really funny because I saw Hoppe and DeAndre on the sideline getting ready to come in, so I kind of had the idea that I was getting subbed out,” Weah said. “My goal was just to stay focused.”
Sergino Dest, who tallied the 25th-minute equalizer, sent Weah a short pass. The son of the great George Weah penetrated deep on the right side and fired a shot that hit the right post before hitting goalkeeper Leonel Moreira and sailing into the net for the game-winner.
“The ball came out wide to Serg,” Weah said. “I saw the run and I just hit it one time. Happened to go in. It’s just being focused in those in those moments.”
And not worrying about getting subbed out.
The goal was ruled an own goal, although Berhalter disagreed.
“I don’t think it’s an own goal,” Berhalter said. “I think we got to get that change. … So, we’ll talk to FIFA about that whoever we need to talk to and see if we get that reversed.”