USMNT: Tim Weah doing precisely what he must

Celtic's Timothy Weah celebrates scoring his sides third goal during the William Hill Scottish Cup fourth round match at Celtic Park, Glasgow. (Photo by Jane Barlow/PA Images via Getty Images)
Celtic's Timothy Weah celebrates scoring his sides third goal during the William Hill Scottish Cup fourth round match at Celtic Park, Glasgow. (Photo by Jane Barlow/PA Images via Getty Images) /

Tim Weah scored after just 14 minutes into his debut for Celtic at the weekend. The USMNT prospect is doing precisely what he must to ensure a successful loan furthers his development.

In the aftermath of the MLS SuperDraft, there has been major discussion regarding the development of young players, how it is best handled, and what processes yield the greatest results.

In the SuperDraft context, the conversation centres on the American-centred method of collegiate progression vs. the global football method of clubs having their own academies and coaching and developing players in house.

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Neither is necessarily right or wrong, although there is a growing shift towards the academy model in recent years, with many clubs now outright passing on their SuperDraft selections as they do not want to clog up the path for a young talent they already have coming through, but both depend on one key requirement: playing time.

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In any walk of life, to improve, you need opportunity. You need to practise, to compete, to make mistakes and to learn from them, to gain experience that better prepares you for the next time you try it. You need, in the world of football, playing time. And that, for young players of NCAA or academies or around the globe, for that matter, can be very difficult to find.

U.S. Men’s National Team prospect Tim Weah signed with Celtic on loan this January for that exact reason. Coming through the ranks at Paris Saint-German, the 18-year-old striker is well-regarded in the French capital but is competing with some of the very best players in the world for first-team minutes. Kylian Mbappe, Edinson Cavani and Neymar are PSG’s current starting front three. Good luck forcing your way into that trio.

So for Weah, who has only played 54  minutes in Ligue 1 this season, making just the one start, a loan was necessary to find opportunity. Celtic, he hoped, was where he would find it. And after just one game into his time in Scotland, he might just be right.

Weah was introduced in the 69th minute in a 3-0 Scottish Cup win over Airdrieonians. 14 minutes later, he notched his first goal for his new club. It was a lovely, poacher’s goal. Waiting patiently on the shoulder of the opposing defence, with the ball safely in the midfield, Weah bent his run along the backline and then skirted in behind, poking a lovely, threaded through-pass past the onrushing goalkeeper, showing good awareness of the goalkeeper’s positioning, and into the empty net. If Weah’s style could be defined in a goal, this was it.

And that is precisely what he must do if he is to make his loan a successful one, and subsequently aid his development as he attempts to navigate the difficult path of young talent to senior star. Weah needs to force his way into the Celtic team. He needs to be starting regularly, demanding with his performances that Brendan Rodgers start him whenever he is available. His progression requires playing time.

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That is why this goal and this fast start is so important. He has just six months to prove that he is worthy of being the starting striker. It is critical that he does not simply sit on the bench. He needs to play. And for that, he needs to prove that he should play. This goal, then, is an excellent start to life in Scotland.