Up to U.S. under-17s to 'give hope to our country' at World Cup - Hackworth
United States under-17 coach John Hackworth told his players that it was up to them "to give hope to our country" after the senior U.S. team failed to qualify for the World Cup.
And the youth team responded with an emphatic 5-0 win over Paraguay in the U-17 World Cup Round of 16 in India on Monday -- securing a place in the quarterfinals for the first time since 2005.
After the game, Hackworth was asked whether this win would compensate for the senior national team's loss last week that eliminated the Americans from the big World Cup in Russia next year, and he said his players had accepted the challenge of carrying the torch for U.S. Soccer.
"I don't think anything is going to take away that, and it's a different level," Hackworth said. "I would say that we talked about it internally when that happened as a team, and I told these guys that the responsibility was falling on them now to give hope to our country and to all the good work that I think we're doing with the national team programs.
"It's easy when you have a bad result for everyone to think so negative and no more so than when you miss a World Cup. But hopefully with this performance tonight we've shown our country and the world that we're a footballing nation and we have some potential world-class players like the person sitting next to me.''
That person was Timothy Weah, who became the first American to score a hat trick at a men's FIFA tournament since Freddy Adu against Poland at the 2007 U-20s. The feat was the first for the American U-17s since Adu scored three against South Korea in 2003.
Weah's father is from Liberia and won the Ballon d'Or in 1995. Tim Weah grew up in New York and Florida, and he joined Paris Saint-Germain's youth system three years ago. He signed a pro contract last summer with PSG, where his father played from 1992-95, and hopes to make his first-team debut this season.
"I know with hard work and dedication anything is possible," Tim Weah said. "Learning from the great players that we have there, such as Neymar, [Kylian] Mbappe and [Edison] Cavani, I feel that as I train with them and as I develop with the second team, I feel that it's going to come.
"So hopefully the coach, Unai Emery, is satisfied with what I'm doing so far, so hopefully I'm starting at the end of the season."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.