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Gyau set for first team, Williams getting centerback look for Hoffenheim


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For U.S. Under-23 winger Joe Gyau, the future is now.

Gyau confirmed on his own Twitter feed that he will be in TSG 1899 Hoffenheim's matchday 18 against Hannover 96 this weekend for the first time. Hoffenheim is dealing with a number of injuries, and Gyau, who has been playing well for the club's U-23 team, is going to get his first taste of first-team life in the Bundesliga in what could prove to be a seminal year in the 19-year-old winger's career.

As one of the more promising attackers in the U.S. pipeline, Gyau figures to play a big part for Caleb Porter's U.S. Olympic qualfying team while he continues to climb the club ladder in Germany.

Also of note regarding the U.S. men's national team in Saturday's match is that Daniel Williams appears headed for a start at centerback. Injuries and absences caused by the African Cup of Nations have left Hoffenheim shorthanded at the position, and Williams, typically a defensive midfielder for the club, is likely going to get a chance to fill in, according to the team's official website.

What do you make of these developments? Expecting big things from Gyau in the coming years? Scrambling to find a Hoffenheim-Hannover stream?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. The guy said PZ would be pissed at Gyau; I was just saying I disagreed. That’s all. But I don’t think PZ should be the standard, and I think his comments to the extent pointed at senior players or quality U23s are off-base, but to the extent he was talking selection politics regarding marginal players, I think he has a point. Certain US soccer fans seem to think a European resume, even at some modest level with minimal actual PT, makes you better. Seeing what certain players like Ian Joy have done when actually brought to MLS makes me disagree.

  2. I understand what you are saying and my references to players like Davis are intended to convey that soccer can be achieved simply through talent on the ball. Fitness isn’t everything and players can try and work hard within the bounds of their body types.

    But I think it’s naive to act like some of the key NTers aren’t on another planet physically from most of us. I played college soccer and could run 11-flat 100, 4:45 mile. But I’m reading runners talking about soccer players and it’s like, “I know Dolo and he might have been sub-4 mile if he stayed with it”; “Landon ran windsprints with my cross country team and was running away from us 12 second 100s like clockwork”; “I coached Dempsey’s brother in HS and he ran a 4:40 mile without much track training.” I look at how EJ and Freddy are built and don’t imagine the same natural ability. They could work out for life and would probably not be that fit. Doesn’t mean they can’t get fit for them and try to present a different set of qualities to a soccer coach. But it just bothers me when it’s like, “it is the rest of the stuff that causes some to turn into Michael Bradley and Landon Donovan and others into Danny Szeltza and Eddie Johnson.” Lazy is lazy but hard working players in MLS and elsewhere couldn’t be as fit as Landon. Not a fair example.

  3. Joshuaw,

    Why do you think Donovan at 32 will be any less effective? He may be a little slower but players of his caliber, if they are smart, learn to adjust.

    Diego Forlan had a pretty good World Cup in 2010 and he was about 32. In 1998 Klinsmann was a 33 year old starter for Germany in the World Cup and he scored three goals including one against the US.

    In the two years we have left it is unlikely that the players you mentioned are going to be able to take their game to such a level that they will surpass the 12 years of high level experience and savvy that Donovan will have built up by then.

    And he isn’t done yet. What if he moves to Europe and takes his game up another level?

    The players you menitoned all look good but there is a very big difference between looking good and having a lot of promise and actually being any good. That kind of thinking is what has our economy in such a hell hole.

    Terence Boyd, for example,looks great but he has yet to play one senior game. And it is possible he never will, at least not for Dortmund.

    Many other countries have had similar “golden generations” seemingly develop in their youth squads only to have most of them fail to workout.

    If one or two of them become regular starters for a Champions league contender that would be a huge accomplishment. Our best players, Donovan and Dempsey, have yet to accomplish that.

  4. “Which is a long winded way of saying he probably wouldn’t be peeved at the generally recognized Gyau, who was grabbed by Hoffenheim, getting his due.”

    So PZ is now setting the standard for which USMNT candidates are legitimate? I could care less if he is peeved at Gyau or not.

  5. One of the attractions of soccer as a sport is that, unlike the NBA or the NFL for example, there is no “ideal” body type requirements. Big powerful guys ( Ibrahimovic) can be succesful and so can small, stealthy guys ( Xavi,Iniesta,Messi, Silva).

    Many years ago there was a wide receiver for the NY Jets named Wesley Walker who was blind in one eye. He compensated for it and had a pretty decent career. So please don’t tell me EJ and Freddy were doomed by bad genes.

    To suggest that EJ and Adu were fated towards failure because of their body types, when there are so many players with those same body types who are successful is frankly,very naive.

    Donovan and Beckham, to give you two examples were blessed with good physiques, the English would call them “naturally fit”. But both guys also work far harder than most peole realize, Eric Wynalda’s incoherent rants notwithstanding.

  6. I don’t know that a two sentence blurb from me questioning what apparently is a bad joke counts as picking something apart and analyzing it to death. Generally, that would mean at least a paragraph. And if a joke is bad, is it still a joke? Or is it just lame?

  7. To an extent I agree. I’ve thought both Dempsey & Donovan could either be super-subs for the 2014 cup or starters that are subed off around the 70 minute mark. Either way I feel that neither are likely to play every minute of every game like they have. To me this is a good thing to potentially have to deal with. We may actually have enough depth and experience by 2014 that we could rest some of our players throughout the tournament and be in a position to really challenge in the round of 16 and beyond (depending on the draw).

  8. that’s because Gyau got injured during a training session in between matches during WC Qualifying. He was barely healthy for the finals and didn’t play in the game before that either.

  9. Fair enough, but I like what they are doing where they are fuzzying up the senior and U23 lines by having them in at roughly the same time, even sharing players. So they are kind of focused towards U23 but also being worked into the senior camp. Though I agree that I’m not sure who will pan out, this sort of identification and development process has to help the senior team at the margins with U23s who get plenty of attention.

  10. I think Preston’s issue was more with some of the guys in the U23 Germany camp with limited or no US connections other than a passport, as opposed to people like Gyau who chose to go to Germany. I don’t buy that, teams have routinely canvasssed for such connections, including the US with Regis, Dooley, et al. It’s just started up again with a vengeance, and it’s not a bad idea if you look at what Germany did bringing in Turks, Poles, etc.

    I thought the best argument Zimmermann made, buried deep in his stuff, was the question of whether some B.2 or below German-based reserve player who barely plays, is necessarily better than some American kid who is getting time in MLS or high level college play. If you saw the U23 roster there were some people from Germany who you were like, “Who’s that?” On that limited point of a Yank Abroad not being inherently better than a Yank, I see what he’s saying. But the rest was nationalistic garbage.

    Which is a long winded way of saying he probably wouldn’t be peeved at the generally recognized Gyau, who was grabbed by Hoffenheim, getting his due. I think he’s talking about the lesser names and whether THOSE guys are better than a MLS draft pick or MLS starter/routine player.

  11. I like this post. Donovan will not be a winger but will play in the center. He can be a savvy number 10, spreading the offense for the wingers and target striker. And expect him to hustle defensively as usual. So no matter what, he will be in the starting 11. He is our only big moment player besides Howard

  12. True but only to a point. I don’t believe that Landon and Clint — the distance runner types — are even built the same as Freddy, EJ, Conor, Jozy. As long as the skinny ones don’t get beat up like DmB their fitness is easier to maintain and their bodies are more suited to endurance.

    Don’t get me wrong, people need to put in the work, I just think it’s unfair to act like we’re all equally suited. I played soccer up through college and was also a track sprinter able to run from 100-800 competitively, but when I tried X-country I always felt like I was too leg-powerful to run for miles without tying up. Some of the guys you’re talking about are not really built for that, either. [Now, do I want a sprinter with endurance to play 90? Fairer question.]

    Just like, there are some players like El Pibe, Brad Davis, Preki, who are not really much of athletes but are talented soccer players. Houston used to routinely sub Davis at 70, which is how Ashe made his money for years. It’s a gestalt question of what you add.

    The big issue with Freddy and EJ in particular is that neither is naturally built for endurance, and Freddy is kind of slow and EJ lazy and sloppy. You look at the big picture and it’s not enough. Now, maybe if they worked off their tails like you suggest, they somehow work into being reliable 90 minute guys, but to act like it’s even the same circumstances as Landon to deal with, not quite fair. Some people are just better built to naturally run for days.

  13. Agreed. CB is the big worry spot. Gooch won’t exactly be a spring chicken either by that time and while those guys have been decent for us, they are not great players at this point in their careers and any significant age related drop off would put us in a huge bind. Physically talented guys like Boss and Opara are a long way away. Guys like Whitbread and Ream are closer, but they both have big holes in their games that they need to fix. I really hope Cameron can step up in this audition. He’s got a lot going for him, though I’d love to have a flat out speedster at one of the CB spots. Eddie Pope used to erase so many mistakes with his wheels.

  14. I would say he has a higher cealing and from what we have heard so far, he has a better than 50/50 change to make it for the next WC.

    Very exciting times may be ahead for our MNT.

  15. if the young wings come along and the strikers don’t, i could see landon up top with altidore. regardless, i think he’s going to be starting, especially after seeing him the other day for everton. he’s still one of the best US field players.

  16. I’d be very surprised. Right now, Donovan is one of the two best players in the pool. Looking at his current form at Everton, you’d have to see he’s still one of the the best players to ever don the USA shirt — maybe even the best. If eh’s not starting in 2014, it will only be because he’s hurt or he’s suffered a major injury.

  17. AK was making a bad joke — on e that doesn’t make any sense if you pick it apart and analyze it to death, like you just did.

  18. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone else is starting by the World Cup, with Landon playing a super sub role, but I also don’t think we’ll see it happen. Landon will be deservedly starting.

  19. Boyd still has plenty of developing to do, so I wouldn’t start penciling him in to start at the World Cup quite yet. The potential is certainly there though.

  20. difference between potential and actual level of play. Right now Donovan is doing it and those other guys are potential or below Lando’s level. By the time of next summer’s qualifying i doubt any of them will be playing as well as Lando, even Shea and Johnson. by the summer after maybe but I doubt it. something has to be said for Lando’s clutchness, experience (WC is intimidating) and cynergy with the core of the team; a few things that those prospects don’t have.

    Im more worried about Bocanegra; still the captain and will be 34 by the time the WC comes around. He is still doing well at the national team and club but I don’t see too many prospects breaking down the door at his position.

  21. Don’t see how that’s offensive, but it will be tough for a bunch of 21 year olds to displace Lando, who’s arguably the best player to ever don a USMNT uni, esp. given his versatility/ability to play multiple positions. Lando is playing as a significantly better than the average Premiership player right now. Are you telling me that we will have 3 or 4 21 year-olds dominating major leagues in 2 years? I don’t think that’s realistic. I’d love for it to happen, but I doubt it. Landon will be in the starting mix somewhere as long as his level of play does not drop off too much. Things may work out that Landon is best as a super sub off the bench, but I’m sure he’ll have a big role and I’m sure at least one or two of the youngsters will play a big role too, whether starting or finishing games. I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive.

  22. I hear what you’re saying, and I’d agree if it were anything but a World Cup. But history has proven that you can’t expect players to show up at this tournament.

    All we have to do is look at England to see that talent is one thing, but the ability to tap into that talent at the ultimate stage is another. And by that I mean GOALS (and also assists).

    I’m no big Donovan fan, but he has proven his ability to score big goals in big moments. You can’t teach this quality.

    For me, one of the most impressive things we have going for us is that we have midfielders capable of scoring.

    I’d love to see Shea, Adu, Holden and whoever else filling in these roles, but they are quickly running out of time to get the experience required.

    But Shea and Holden are certainly looking promising.

    You raise a good point.

  23. Really nice thought. Will be interesting to see what happens once qualification starts in June if/when everyone’s healthy and match fit…

    Bench with the likes of Lichaj, Cameron/John/Whitbread, Torres, Holden, Agudelo/Bunbury/Wooten, Gatt/Diskerud/Gyau.

    Next couple years are going to very interesting to watch the progression of the US Team.

  24. My serious opinion that is going to offend everyone on SBI: I will be disappointed if Landon is starting in Brazil 2014. Everyone take a deep breath, okay here comes the explanation.

    With all the young talented wingers, forwards and play-makers it would just be disappointing that a 32 year old is still starting. Gatt, Gyau, Lletget, Shea, Boyd, Bunbury, Agudelo, Johnson, Adu etc. etc… The list goes on. The reason I post this is cause there has been a lot of hype for Gyau and Gatt and I’m buying it. These guys have ruthless speed/skill and I would love them to develop into USMNT starters by 2014

  25. Yeah, we could certainly use their services on the Olympic team. In terms of their release, I think it needs to be something contractual/spoken about between Klinsmann and their staff. The likelihood is Klinsmann can get them to release them for qualifying, but you never know.

  26. Very true. Bradley already conducts interviews in Italian, 6 months in. The coach is very comfortable with how he has settled in, and trusts him and plays him every game.

    This sort of stuff goes further than people realise i think.

  27. Not to mention the full nationals. He could be the passing Michael Orozco role, except that he could be good. I’d personally be interested in seeing the US fulfill Klinsi’s ball control fromn the back mission. Imagine trotting out this Germany-fueled lineup in Brazil.

    Altidore and Boyd
    Shea Donovan
    Johnson Williams Onyewu Chandler

  28. the ACN will be over by March. hopefully Gyau and Williams are released for that time they would be huge for our Olympic quantification hopes.

  29. I don’t know Ives’, this might actually mean that he may not be available for Qualifiers. If the team likes him and he does well, they may not release him. I understand he’s getting the chance now because of injuries and African Nations Cup, though.

  30. There is just as many failures of 17 yr olds heading to Europe as young players starting in MLS. Joe Gyau’s success will come from being extremely talented and extremely hard working. Freddy Adu is also extremely talented but it is no coincedence that he has been to many places started one or two games and then never seen the field or that every new place he goes it takes him forever to get into 90 min game shape- ask Landon Donovan if any team has ever described him as “needs to get into 90 min game shape.” Talent is what most of these young kids who turn pro at 17 have in buckets it is the rest of the stuff that causes some to turn into Michael Bradley and Landon Donovan and others into Danny Szeltza and Eddie Johnson.

  31. Good news for Gyau. I thought he was the best player at the 20’s WC qualifiers but didn’t get the ball enough. It also will validate those who advocate the Gyau path to success over the Adu path.


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