Timothy Weah will likely play better matches for the United States men's national team than his 22 minute cameo against Jamaica in a World Cup qualifier last month. Though, there was certainly a lot to like when he replaced Brenden Aaronson in the second half of his side's 2-0 win in Austin.
Gregg Berhalter, for one, liked what he saw. On the back of that performance, Weah would start the next two matches. In one of those game, against Costa Rica, he had the most decisive moment of his young USMNT career when he forced the deciding own goal to garner his team all three points.
Perhaps even more importantly, there was a lot to like for his first coach and, he notes with no little affection, one of his toughest critics. "Ever since I was young my mom was my first coach," Weah says. "She's on me about everything. Mother's love. She's always on me. Even when I play well, she tells me that I still need to do this better, that better. She's kind of that pushing force that keeps me going. So shout out to mom. "
Weah's father George might be footballing royalty, the only African player to win the Ballon d'Or and the president of Liberia, but it has been his mother Clar who has been guiding his career since the early days. And against the nation of her birth, she was thoroughly impressed by what she saw from her son.
"Actually, she was pretty happy against Jamaica because that's her birth country. She was happy that I can go out there and put a performance like that, coming off the bench as well. It wasn't easy.
"But she was pretty proud and the family back home was proud. It was a great moment for me."
Those great moments are coming more frequently for Weah, who today joined the likes of Raheem Sterling, Bukayo Saka and Sadio Mane in signing a boot endorsement deal with New Balance. Having won the French title with Lille last season the 21 year old is beginning to take further strides on the field. He has developed an impressive chemistry with fellow north American Jonathan David and former Manchester United midfielder Angel Gomes sayin, "it's really hard to separate us; wherever one goes the others will follow," and is starting to establish himself as a creative force in Jocelyn Gourvennec's side.
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Weah, who has needed time to recover his best form after two major hamstring injuries early in his Lille career already has two assists to his name this season and is creating a chance for a teammate every 59 minutes in Ligue 1. By way of contrast, Lionel Messi is laying on a shooting opportunity for his Paris Saint-Germain team mates every 56 minutes. The US international also sits in the top 20 in the division for expected assists.
The boyhood Arsenal fan who grew up idolising Theo Walcott and Hector Bellerin is showing their ability to combine searing pace with an ability to create for others.
"I'm personally just getting experience and being much more comfortable," says Weah. "When you're a young guy playing in the league, everyone has their own, you know, way of expressing their game. Obviously, it took me a minute because of injuries and play time.
"But now I'm getting sufficient play time, I feel like I'm getting that experience and I'm feeling more comfortable. Now I'm taking on players. I'm showing my game and showing what I can do. I feel like this year is really that year that I can take it up just another notch and then just keep building off from that.
"And the goal is to stay healthy and continue creating chances, an unselfish season this year. I want to get more assists, and I want to get more goals. The most important thing is just enjoy myself and that's what I'm doing right now."
For Lille, however, this has been a challenging start to the new campaign. Having seen head coach Christophe Galtier depart along with two key starters in Mike Maignan and Boubakary Soumare, Les Dogues' start to the campaign has been a checkered one. With 11 games play they sit firmly in mid table. Last year's shock French champions are now playing Ligue 1 opponents with a target on their back.
"For me personally, I feel like the championship season is over. It's a brand new season," says Weah. "We're not champions anymore. Definitely teams are gonna have that rage when they play, they're gonna want to beat you. You can see that every team is out to get us.
"But that's what adversity is. We just have to fight through that. Obviously, right now, where we're sitting in the league, it's a bit difficult, but every team goes through that. I feel like it's just our moment and we just have to be able to fight through that adversity, come back and show them why last year we were champions."
The Champions League, however, is offering these Lille players a chance to prove their worth on the top stage. In one of the most competitive groups this season, the French side have held Sevilla and Wolfsburg to goalless draws at home and they find themselves just a point behind the former in the race for second place with three games left to go.
Playing an hour in defeat to Red Bull Salzburg helped Weah to get "those UCL first night jitters" out of his system, next comes what could be the decisive match in Lille's hopes to reach the knockout stages, away to Sevilla. Win against Julen Lopetegui's side in Andalusia, something only Athletic Bilbao, Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund have managed this year, and a top two berth will be firmly within reach. Happily for Gourvennec his young forward knows exactly what he will be up against in the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.
"Jules Kounde, I played against him when he was at Bordeaux. Diego Carlos,I played against him when he was at Nantes. So, these are guys that I have experience playing against. [Karim] Rekik is a guy that I know I've been following him since way before.
"It's gonna be fun, I have to play my game, play with a lot of confidence. You know, my confidence is high. I feel like I can do anything, using my speed and, and getting in behind the defense and using those as my as my main keys."
Weah adds, "The game is going to be another where I can take that next step and show what I can do in high level football. Since I was a kid I've been wanting to play Champions League, watching Arsenal in the Champions League, Chelsea in Champions League, playing it on FIFA and just dreaming. Now it's really here and I just feel blessed."
Then, looming on the horizon, two crucial games with the US national team. The home game against Mexico may be one of the more significant matches in the World Cup qualifying campaign, but it will be the trip to Jamaica, from which the mother's side of his family hail, that will be of particular significance. Will he not worry about spoiling their day by inflicting another defeat on the Reggae Boyz?
"She doesn't mind at all. Hopefully, I can score against them next time. That'd be like the cherry on top."