Josh Gatt, The Young American Winger Who You Should Know About

A true US Soccer fan could look at any USMNT roster and think of at least one or two players he/she would have added/removed. Jurgen Klinsmann was hired to make these tough decisions and it is easy to criticize him because on a national team roster there are so many possible variations. At the end of the day though, someone is going to be upset with his choices no matter who he chooses. Nevertheless, I remember when it was Jurgen himself that claimed he wanted to change the values of this team and put more effort into developing youth talent. However, I feel that Jurgen is ignoring the young Americans playing in Europe unless they are from Germany. The two players I am most focused on are Mikkel Diskerud (Mix) and Josh Gatt, However I believe Josh Gatt is the most attractive of the two options because he is the winger the USMNT sorely needs.

Josh Gatt took an unconventional approach towards professional soccer and it was most likely an approach MLS would not like to encourage. Instead of going to Indian University where he had a scholarship, Josh Gatt took his talents to the Austrian league where he was first signed by SC Rheindorf Altach and immediately played on the first team. Then in 2011 he joined Molde where he still plays and starts. During his three seasons he has scored 16 total goals and has made a name for himself as a fast winger who can be a game-changer with the ball at his feet. As of now, he has only received two USMNT caps and one was in the Russia game on November and the other was against Canada in January. I must concede that in both games Josh Gatt did not look perfect. However, it could be argued that the US team in both games looked the opposite of perfect and Josh Gatt was one of the few refreshing players on the field. His off-the-ball runs were not always the best and his first touch left more to be desired but most of the US players on the field suffered from the same problems. What Gatt did well was when he ran with the ball at defenders because he was one of the few American players to do so. Sometimes he was successful, and other times he fell short, but the important thing to notice was that he created more problems for the defenses then most of the American players struggling on the field. There was so little creativity and offense on the field that it was surprising that such a young player with so few caps was willing to expose his flaws in order to better show his strengths. American soccer can be very conservative at times (a big reason why Bob Bradley was fired) so we should encourage young players to be themselves on the field even if they come off as brash.

The US is not known for producing attack-minded players, especially strikers and true wingers. A true winger is not just a player playing at outside midfielder but instead they are attack-minded outside “strikers” who are fast and likes to take defenders on in order to create chances either by crossing or by cutting into the middle for a clear shot on goal. As I described before, Josh Gatt is this type of player. He is exceptionally fast because of his track background. Molde timed him in a 100 meter sprint and he clocked in at 11 seconds flat. This speed is not confined to Josh’s off-the-ball runs since he is equally as fast with the ball at his feet. At Molde his speed and nose for goal have established himself as one of the team’s most important players. It is no secret that Josh Gatt’s skill set, while still developing, is exactly what the US needs.  The more USMNT experience he gets, the better prepared he will be for the upcoming 2014 World Cup where his skill set can be used to stretch defenses and hopefully open up more space for Boyd, Altidore, Gomez, and Dempsey in the middle of the pitch.

Landon Donovan and Brek Shea are two of the few American players that could be considered a winger in the USMNT pool. Unfortunately, Landon Donovan is on sabbatical and Brek Shea is still recovering from a foot injury (Yet somehow on this roster but that is another argument). With so many injuries why bring in Brad Davis, an aging left winger who we already know has very little upside, instead of bringing in Josh Gatt? Brad Davis most likely will not play and neither would Josh Gatt but just the experience of being on the roster will provide Josh Gatt with more experience at the international level. At some point Jurgen is going to have to trust some young emerging American soccer players to prove themselves on the field during important games. If he does not do that now, then will he be willing to do that during the 2014 World Cup and will we even make it there if he does not?

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