Patrick Weah is the focus of my first Don’t Tread Player Spotlight, a content series I’m hoping to publish weekly highlighting current and future USMNT/USYNT players.
Like most, I was originally attracted to Patrick when I heard that he was called up by Minnesota United head coach Adrian Heath to train with the Loons first team this preseason. A player going from non-da club soccer with Minnesota TwinStars Academy (TSA) to training against the likes of MLS Defender of the Year Ike Opara in less than a year is a huge accomplishment and testament of the ability of the young striker. Because of this incredible growth, I decided to take a deeper look to see what Weah offers currently and where he needs to improve.
+ Pure Athleticism (e.g. strength, agility, speed)
+ Body Positioning
I should preface this by saying that Development Academy footage featuring Weah is few and far between considering he’s only been with Minnesota United since the start of this season. Because of this, the above footage comes from only two GA Cup Qualifying matches in late 2019. So for positives, Patrick Weah’s strength is nearly unmatched at this level, he is clearly a man amongst boys. Weah effortlessly holds off defenders as he shields the ball before making a progressive dribble or pass. This leads me to my next positive, it’s clear that the 16-year-old striker is comfortable with his body, to my eyes he seems acutely in tune with how and where he wants to position his body to shield the ball. He then accurately reads the defender in order to shift his weight to build into a dynamic dribble, of which he does often – sometimes too often. It’s clear that Patrick is very gifted on the ball. He is very decisive and has a sense of self-confidence that is nice to see in a young player. Additionally, Patrick is a simple passer of the ball a lot of which comes from his ability to attract attention and pressure from the opposing defenders. He makes his decision and goes with it and I don’t mind that one bit. Lastly, he has VERY soft feet. I’m not sure I noticed him take a touch that went awry. To combine a good first touch with strong body positioning is a really good sign for a kid who just turned 16.
Areas To Improve
In the matches I observed, Weah was played as the #9 which makes sense considering how strong he is. However, I noticed a lack of influence from that position. Patrick is a player that thrives when he is on the ball, check out his highlights from his High School Soccer Season and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about. He is as dynamic a player as they come, but he becomes isolated as the #9 because he is not yet accustomed to being proactive from that position. He often reacts to the ball rather than proactively deciding for his teammates where it should go with his runs checking to or away from the ball. Secondarily, he could stand to improve his combination play from the #9 position. His combination play is strong when he is heading toward the goal but he seems uncomfortable with his back to goal. Lastly, his passing could use some work, there were moments where he’d do well to hold the ball and turn only to put too much mustard on the outlet pass to the winger. Most importantly, these are all things that Patrick can, and will need, to fine-tune as he continues to play with better, more athletic talent.
All in all, I can see why Adrian Heath has taken an interest in Patrick Weah. He is strong, decisive, confident and silky smooth on the ball. If he can improve his influence when he is off the ball then there’s no doubt in my mind that we will be talking about him more seriously in the near future. Weah has an incredibly solid foundation and is certainly one we should all follow over the course of the next two years.