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New-look Tim Weah excited to face Neymar, Brazil in front of family, friends

United States' Tim Weah in action during an international friendly soccer match against Bolivia, Monday, May 28, 2018, in Chester, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

HANOVER, N.J. — Tim Weah stepped into U.S. national team camp ahead of international friendlies against Brazil and Mexico a changed man.

Part of it was the new, closely-cropped haircut that even drew the attention of interim coach Dave Sarachan before training Monday morning.

“I was just sitting in the chair one day about a week ago, and I was just like, ‘Wow, I need to change,’ so I just cut it off,” Weah said. “And it’s getting hot.”

The bigger, clearly more important change, was his confidence. The 18-year-old arrived in camp with more bravado than he showed in the opening moments of his first USMNT start against Bolivia on May 28 at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Pa.

In that match, Weah became the fourth youngest player to score for the U.S. when he struck for his first international goal in the 3-0 victory. But he had to work through some early nerves that day.

“As you saw against Bolivia, coming in as a young 18-year-old playing against professionals and playing with professionals I used to watch, I came in with a little less confidence and a little bit less swagger because I was holding back. I wanted to play simple and stuff,” Weah said. “But I’m more confident now. I’m training every day with the best players, so in this camp I really want to show the world and show our supporters what I really can do on the ball.”

Helping build Weah’s confidence was his decision to turn down a loan and remain with Paris Saint-Germain this season. Regular playing time likely would have come elsewhere, but Weah wouldn’t have the chance to work with coach Thomas Tuchel on a daily basis.

“I feel that under Tuchel and with the players that we have, it’s going to be great for me. My game is going to develop so much and I’m going to mature so much,” Weah said. “That was the best decision for me.”

Tuchel, particularly, has been a huge influence on Weah, who called him “one of the best coaches I’ve ever worked with.”

“Tactically, he’s amazing. Technically, he’s an amazing coach,” Weah said. “Without his coaching staff, I feel like he wouldn’t be the coach he is. He’s a great person. I love him so much.”

Weah is also brimming with confidence after scoring his competitive goal for PSG in a 4-0 win over Monaco in the Trophée des Champions last month and his first league goal a week later in the season opener against Caen.

Still, Sarachan cautions Weah isn’t quite ready to make a massive leap forward in his U.S. national team career.

“You still have the next step. You can’t jump three places. I think Tim’s certainly coming in with confidence and he now knows me, my staff, this team, what’s expected,” Sarachan said. “But he’s still very young. We can’t expect him to be a seasoned guy today. I think his comfort level now is a little bit better than it was when we had him.”

A proud New Yorker who took daily trips across the George Washington Bridge in his year with the New York Red Bulls academy, Weah cherishes any chance to represent the United States — but Friday night’s match against Brazil and PSG teammate Neymar at MetLife Stadium is special.

“It’s the first time I get to play in front of all my family members, so it’s going to be fun,” Weah said. “I just want to represent for New Jersey and New York, and show out and hopefully beat Brazil and go to Nashville and beat Mexico.”

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