DOHA, Qatar — Tim Weah is 22 years old, but his young age doesn’t tell the story of the experience he already has under his belt.
The Lille winger has played in multiple youth World Cups, the UEFA Champions League, contentious derbies in Europe’s top flight, Concacaf World Cup qualifying, and in cup finals for club and country.
It is the kind of resume American players would have been happy to retire with just a decade ago, but it is now the standard resume and profile for many of the current USMNT’s top players, either the same age as Weah or even younger.
That reality is why Weah doesn’t buy the idea that the current USMNT is too young and not ready for the challenge of the World Cup due to the Americans boasting the second-youngest roster in the World Cup (second to Ghana).
“I feel like right now the way football is, age is just a number at this point,” Weah said when asked by SBI about the team’s label as a young squad. “Some of the best players in the world are not even 24 yet. I feel like individually, we all have our own experiences and we’re all bringing our own maturity to the team. Christian’s a Champions League winner, Weston’s playing at one of the best clubs, Tyler’s getting the Premier League experience. I feel like when we all come together, we we bring our own level of maturity.
“And even though we’re young, we’re not young-minded,” Weah said. “It’s not an immature group at all. It’s a group of guys who know what we want. We have our goal set and we’re all just hungry and ready to get started.”
The Americans begin their World Cup campaign on Monday against Wales, and enter the competition with just one player on the roster — DeAndre Yedlin — with World Cup experience.
While the USMNT lacks World Cup experience, the roster is filled with players who have played in, and won in, Europe’s top leagues. Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Gio Reyna, Tyler Adams, Weah, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Brenden Aaronson have all enjoyed success in the form of league titles, cup titles and Champions League experience, while also having gone through their first taste of Concacaf World Cup qualifying.
Berhalter will be banking on that experience to help offset the team’s inexperience at the World Cup.
“One thing we learned from qualifying is that you can talk about it all you want, but until you experience it, it’s hard to really understand it,” Gregg Berhalter said in June. “That’s going to be the case in the World Cup, and our job is to just put them in position to focus on the performance and not worry about all the external factors. Just focus on what we’re doing together as a team.
“What we know is the guys have played in high-pressure situations before,” Berhalter said. “What we know is that we can thrive as underdogs, or favorites. We can be comfortable with that. And then we know that it’s a tight group and we’re going to have to rely on each other in this group to use our teamwork and use our our team culture as a as an added strength.”