Saturday was a Scottish Cup day, and two Americans had memorable debuts in their new homes.
Tim Weah and Ian Harkes came off the bench for Celtic and Dundee United, respectively, in victories over lower league sides.
[ RECAP: Liverpool 4-3 Palace ]
Harkes did it in stoppage time to cap off United’s 4-0 win at Scottish League One side Montrose.
A 70th minute sub, Harkes scored in the fourth minute of stoppage when he finished across goal from the outside of the six.
Weah needed less time. The 18-year-old ran onto a through ball from Dedryck Boyata and poked it home 14 minutes after arriving on the scene against visiting Airdrieonians, also of Scottish League One.
Calm finish from the Paris Saint-Germain loanee.
Even with the caveat that they are teammates, Neymar has issued some strong words in support of new Celtic loanee Timothy Weah.
“He has everything to go and be one of the top attacking players in Europe,” Neymar said.
[ MORE: PL Club Power Rankings ]
The American teenager couldn’t quite break into the PSG strike corps, with Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, and Edinson Cavani chewing up minutes and the precious few remaining sprinkled between 19-year-old Moussa Diaby (2G-5A in 536 minutes) and 21-year-old Christopher Nkunku (1G-1A in 487 minutes, mostly in midfield).
There’s zero shame in that, and Neymar is tipping Weah to not just play well in Glasgow, but to star for the Scottish leaders. From The Scottish Daily Record:
“He has the talent, we know that, but also he has a great attitude. From the first day I have met him he has wanted to learn off the players who have already won the major trophies, from the players who have already achieved big things in the game.
“He is a fun guy to be around – but also he is very humble and that is what you want to see from a young player. It’s what a coach wants to see because it means they want to learn.”
Neymar went on to say Weah has the same demeanor the Brazilian possessed as a 18-year-old.
Weah has a goal in eight caps for the USMNT, and two goals in six senior appearances for PSG.
The tale of a pair of Chicago Fire products taking their talents to Scotland has taken an interesting turn.
Steven Gerrard brought Matt Polster and Andrew Gutman to Rangers for a trial in December, and was said to be hopeful of signing both. Polster was reported as the less likely to leave the United States, but is now said to be negotiating with the Glaswegian outfit.
[ READ: PL Player Power Rankings ]
The same report, from The Athletic’s Paul Tenorio, says Rangers’ bitter rivals at Celtic have pulled into pole position to sweep left back Gutman out from under them.
There’s something interesting here aside from Gutman choosing Celtic over his initial trial club Rangers, two of the fiercest rivals in the world: The 22-year-old Fire academy product isn’t as highly viewed by Chicago as he is by several other MLS sides, Celtic, and the league itself.
From The Athletic:
Sources say the Fire initially offered Gutman a minimum-value contract and that Chicago has been shopping the left back’s homegrown rights within the league. Sources indicate MLS has upped the offer to Gutman in order to try to keep him in the league, and there is interest from multiple teams within MLS. Gutman is mulling both offers, but sources indicate he is leaning toward going overseas with Celtic.
So… it’ll be a little alarming for Fire supporters, an already beleaguered bunch, if Gutman turns out to be a starter for Celtic (or another European club) and Chicago simply offered the minimum to keep him.
Gutman won the MAC Hermann Trophy as the best player in college soccer this season, and left back has been a perennial question for the USMNT. That said, the top-heavy Scottish Premiership may be a physical grind, but isn’t a guarantee to be a better testing ground than Major League Soccer. It’s certainly a better gateway to Europe, though.
Might Jermain Defoe and Tim Weah define the Scottish Premiership title fight?
Okay, okay, maybe that’s a bit rich, but Celtic and Rangers have both added exciting new loan strikers this week.
[ MORE: 100 most valuable players ]
Rangers announced a 18-month loan deal with Bournemouth’s Defoe on Sunday, and Celtic confirmed their capture of Paris Saint-Germain and USMNT youngster Tim Weah on Monday.
Weah turns 19 on Feb. 22, and has two goals in six appearances for PSG but is stuck behind Edinson Cavani, Neymar, and Kylian Mbappe on the depth chart. He’s eight-times capped with one goal for the United States.
Here’s what Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers had to say about his new forward:
“Timothy’s a young talent who is full international player. He has a long career ahead of him but he has those natural attributes in terms of his pace and technique. He’s hungry too. …
“He has really good qualities technically, and tactically is always improving his game. Physically he’s very good, very fast and is a strong player. He’ll add competition to the squad.”
Celtic is also taking Oliver Burke on loan from West Brom in its bid to win its eighth-straight Scottish top-flight title, and 50th all-time.
If you know a Rangers supporter, there’s an easy explanation for the pep in their step this Saturday.
The blue side of Glasgow is glowing after a league win for the first time since March 25, 2012, as Rangers dominated disorganized Celtic to the tune of a 1-0 win in the Old Firm Derby at the Ibrox Stadium on Saturday.
[ MORE: Americans to Celtic, Rangers? ]
Ryan Jack scored the lone goal, and it will have deeply satisfied Rangers fans on its journey through the legs of hated Celtic captain Scott Brown.
Celtic have a match in hand on Rangers, with both teams on 42 points atop the table, though the Bhoys’ fourth loss matches their total for all of last season.
It’s the first old firm loss for Brendan Rodgers as Celtic boss. Rangers last won any competition over Rangers in penalties during the Scottish Cup semifinal in 2016.