Paris Saint-Germain’s Timothy Weah has received his first call-up to the United States national team, as caretaker manager Dave Sarachan continues his youth movement by naming a 22-player squad for the March 27 friendly against Paraguay.
Weah is the son of one-time World Player of the Year and current president of Liberia George Weah. After scoring a hat trick against Paraguay at the Under-17 World Cup last October, the 18-year-old made two first-team appearances with PSG this month, and Sarachan is keen to get a look up close.
“Tim has obviously been very successful with our youth national teams,” Sarachan said. “More recently with PSG, he’s playing for a high-profile club who has seen fit to give him first-team minutes, which is a great sign of his progression.
“He’s a versatile player than can fit in at a couple different positions, and when you have speed and technical ability combined as a young kid, I think he’s an interesting prospect to offer an opportunity to.”
The emphasis is clearly on youth with an average age of just under 24. The roster includes several players who performed well in the 1-1 draw with Portugal last November, including Vitesse defender Matt Miazga, New York Red Bulls midfielder Tyler Adams and Schalke midfielder Weston McKennie.
Weah is one of five players to receive their first call-up, along with defenders Shaq Moore of La Liga club Levante, Erik Palmer-Brown (Kortrijk on loan from Manchester City) and Antonee Robinson (Bolton on loan from Everton), as well as forward Andrija Novakovich (Telstar on loan from Reading).
“For the most part they’re younger players that we feel have a future with the national team along with some familiar faces who were a part of January camp that we felt did well and wanted to continue looking at those players,” Sarachan said. “We’ve mixed that with a few players who offer some experience from the past relative to being part of the program … These are guys that come in with a voice of experience.”
Among the more familiar players included are Newcastle defender DeAndre Yedlin, the most experienced in the squad with 49 caps. He is joined by Santos Laguna defender Jorge Villafana, Atlanta United midfielder Darlington Nagbe and Hamburg forward Bobby Wood.
One name that is conspicuously absent is Borussia Dortmund midfielder Christian Pulisic. Dortmund has a league match against Bayern Munich the following Saturday, and given that with travel Pulisic wouldn’t return until Thursday, the decision was made to leave him off the roster.
“I’ve had conversations with the sporting director at Dortmund and several with Christian personally about the timing of this friendly and where he is professionally at the moment with his club,” Sarachan said. “He’s now feeling confident in playing an important role for Dortmund at a crucial time in their season where they’re trying to lock in qualification for the Champions League.
“They also have a huge match against Bayern Munich on the back end of our match against Paraguay, so when I factored all of those things together, as much as we wanted him here I felt it best suits the player to continue in the rhythm and form he’s currently in with his club.”
Another notable absentee is Werder Bremen forward Aron Johannsson, who recently made a comeback after struggling with injuries and was slated to be on the roster. But Johannsson recently picked up a minor leg injury that rendered him unavailable. Wolfsburg defender John Brooks was also ruled out because of injury.
On the plus side, Anderlecht’s on-loan attacker Kenny Saief is included in the squad. Saief was part of the 2017 Goal Cup squad, but complications from hernia surgery have prevented him from getting a further look. He has made nine appearances with Anderlecht this season, scoring one goal.
“In the case of Kenny, when we had him last for the Gold Cup, he unfortunately had an injury and we didn’t really get to know him,” Sarachan said. “He’s been on loan to Anderlecht in Belgium since January where he is seeing consistent minutes and is an integral part of their first 11.
“We feel he’s healthy, in good form and has a unique skill set that makes me excited to see him with us again, with the hopes he stays healthy and sees some minutes against Paraguay.”
Nagbe could line up against his Atlanta teammate Miguel Almiron, who was named to the Paraguay squad for the game next Tuesday in Cary, North Carolina.
U.S. squad by position (club; caps/goals)
Goalkeepers: Alex Bono (Toronto FC; 0/0), Bill Hamid (Midtjylland; 5/0), Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew SC; 1/0)
Defenders: Cameron Carter-Vickers (Ipswich Town; 1/0), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest; 14/1), Matt Miazga (Vitesse; 4/1), Shaq Moore (Levante; 0/0), Erik Palmer-Brown (Kortrijk; 0/0), Antonee Robinson (Bolton Wanderers; 0/0), Jorge Villafana (Santos Laguna; 15/0), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle; 49/0)
Midfielders: Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls; 2/0), Marky Delgado (Toronto FC; 0/0), Weston McKennie (Schalke; 1/1), Darlington Nagbe (Atlanta United; 24/1), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders; 2/0), Kenny Saief (Anderlecht; 1/0), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC; 3/0), Tim Weah (Paris Saint-Germain; 0/0)
Forwards: Andrija Novakovich (Telstar; 0/0), Rubio Rubin (Club Tijuana; 4/0), Bobby Wood (Hamburg; 36/10)