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USMNT Daily Update: On Gatt and Gyau, and the need for speed

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Ten years ago, a pair of 20-year olds came along and helped give the U.S. Men’s National Team a sorely-needed infusion of speed and energy that helped recharge the U.S. attack and helped the Americans make it all the way to the World Cup finals.

Those younger days are long gone for Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley, and a decade after that dynamic duo helped bring pace to the U.S. attack, we still find ourselves waiting for the next wave of speedsters to come along and help the U.S. attack stretch defenses.

A look at Jurgen Klinsmann’s young crop of call-ups gives the national team some hope of soon finding some speedsters capable of contributing to the senior team. Josh Gatt and Joe Gyau are two of the fastest, if not the two fastest, players in the U.S. player pool. They are both capable of taking on defenders and speeding down the flanks.

Are they ready for regular roles with the national team? Not yet, but the national team’s need for fresh wing options, and a speed component to the squad, makes them both intriguing prospects to keep a serious eye on, and it is the reason they are both in Russia with the national team now.

Gyau is far from a new name in U.S. national team mix. From his days as a top U-17 prospect, to his stints with the U-20 and U-23 national teams, Gyau has steadily climbed up the ranks at a young age. He is still just 20, and only recently started securing senior first-team minutes while on loan with German second-division side St. Pauli.

Gyau isn’t ready for senior team minutes just yet, but his skill set is a unique one. His ability to play on either flank, and his blazing acceleration makes him an enticing wing option, but he still needs games and seasoning on the club level. Once he does get that experience though, he could make a quick climb up the national team depth chart.

Gatt is closer to being a national team contributor thanks to the two seasons of first-team action with Norwegian champions Molde. A speedy and confident right winger who has shown impressive improvement to his overall game over the past year, Gatt has the traits to be an effective wing option in the immediate future. He may not be read to start any time soon (he is still just 21), but Gatt could develop into a quality bench option in World Cup qualifying in 2013, and position himself for a role on the 2014 World Cup squad.

Klinsmann will be hoping that Gyau and Gatt keep developing and maturing on the club level, not only for the depth they can help provide, but because of the speed option they could bring to the table. Having some fast wing options could not only can add a sorely-needed element to the U.S. attack, it could also help Klinsmann consider a wider variety of systems to have the team play.

Don’t go expecting to see Gatt and Gyau running around the field together in Russia on Wednesday, but if they keep developing, they could soon be on the field for the national team together, reminding us of another young and fast American tandem from a decade ago.


  1. It’s like my comment in the roster thread mutated into a thread of its own. Ha.

    I agree totally. I know it probably won’t happen, but I would LOVE to see Gyau and Gatt out there together with Fabian and Chandler overlapping them. It would not only help our attack, but also our defense. Teams will not be flying forward knowing we have that kind of pace to beat them on a counter.

  2. What makes Gyau so exciting is he has speed along with technical ability. I have not seen Josh Gatt play, so I have no comment. What I have seen of Gyau, he is a very exciting prospect for the US.

  3. Slightly off topic, but I’m still believe LLetget will emerge as the best of his class. He’s being brought along slowly by WH but has been nothing short of excellent with their 1st place U-23 team. Reports are his defensive play is coming on strong, plus he has been healthy. probably too late for 2014 unless he gets in the first team before this season ends.

  4. Speed is overrated in soccer. Jamaica would be dominating CONCACAF if it were a deciding factor.

    The most important factors are:

    1) ball skills (first touch, passing, holding, dribbling)
    2) brains
    3) endurance
    4) speed

    Cuauhtemoc Blanco hobbled around the field with zero speed but his ball skills and brains were deadly.

    Robbie Findley’s “speed” put him on our World Cup roster. Whatever…

    • It makes me sad every weekend that a USA world cup team player doesn’t even get dressed on game-day for a mid-table 2nd division team. 🙁

    • Donovan has a top notch first touch, world class endurance, and an excellent soccer brain. The fact that he’s also fast, especially in the 80th minute when others are fading, makes him the best player we’ve ever had.

      What’s your point?

    • You’re really missing the point. Nobody ever said speed is the most important aspect of a player’s make-up, but having speed on a team is important. And for all the slow players you name, there were fast players who helped make up for their lack of pace.

      Obviously you need more than just speed, but that goes without saying.

      • Couldn’t agree more. Why would anyone think it has to be an either or proposition? Superior skill is of course a great asset, as is speed, both combined are potent as %$#@ and what top sides have. Having the speed, especially skillful speed gives creative players space and time to cut a team apart… which is, of course, lethal.

  5. Also I think about Charlie Davies…and his immature decision to climb in car in the middle of the night and then not begging to be let out of the car when the speedometer hit 90+….

  6. The summer of 2013 will be very revealing as far as who can cut it at the international level and who can’t. I just don’t see the same XI playing qualifiers and Gold Cup games, not to mention the friendlies during the summer as well. It will be a great chance to see young players in meaningful games.

    • Here are some names to consider for the Gold Cup:

      GK: Rimando, S. Johnson, Hamid, Kennedy, Gruenenbaum, S. Clark
      RB: Beitashour, Loyd, Sarkodie (yes I’m serious)
      LB: Morrow, Sinovic, Lichaj
      CB: Besler, Gonzalez*, John, Berry, Ream
      DM: Kitchen, R. Clark, Morales
      AM: Gil, Joya, Feilhaber
      RW: Bedoya, DeLeon
      LW: Pontius, Shea
      CF: Boyd, Bruin, McInerney, Wondolowski, Gordon

      *might go straight to first team camp

  7. Gatt, Gyau, & Shea are all interesting options as Speedy Wingers. Pair them with control players like Bradly, Williams, Jones, Holden, Zusi or even Bedoya/Mixx and I think they could fair really well. The next 6 months will tell the tale of who from this group will step up to punch a full time ticket and who will be dropped down to a part timer.

    If all goes well we could have the strongest USMNT we’ve ever seen….and with a bit of luck in the WC draw, go further than ever.

    Keeper: Howard, Guzan, (Pick 1 – Hamid/Johnson)
    Defense: Chandler, Johnson, Cameron, Dolo, Boca, Lichaj/Castillo, (2 TBD CB’s – Brooks/Gonzalez/Beasler/John/Ream/Hines/Edu)
    Midfield: Bradley, Williams, Donovan, Holden, Zusi, Jones, (Pick 2 – Shea/Gatt/Gyau)
    Strikers: Jozy, Boyd, Dempsey, (Pick 1 – Gomez, Wooten, Agudelo, Sapong, etc…)

    Finding the CB pairing to take us through the Hex and into the WC is the biggest question mark, but once we have that things line up nicely as far as potential options go.

    • This is a nice look at what we have to look forward too. I agree with Umlaut about EJ, with the way he has played this season and his performance in the 2 WCQ games he still has a chance. The only thing im not sure about is Holden. He has been out of soccer for a long time and we dont know for sure that when he does come back that he will ever be the same player. Just look at Charlie Davies.

  8. Has Gyau learned to use his other foot over the last 2-3 years, and if not, what kind of coaching are they giving him at Hoffenheim…

    • Is he a lefty?

      He played on the left wing against Mexico U23 in February and looked pretty stellar to me. Haven’t seen him play since OQ, but reports are extremely positive regarding his limited minutes for St. Pauli.

      • He’s playing both left wing and right wing for St. Pauli. He looks very good on each side, but IMO he looks strongest on the left side. His ball skills handling skills are excellent, he can bring down long passes and the ball sticks to him like glue, and he loves to go one-on-one.

  9. I just remember that U23 friendly against Mexico before the Olympic qualifiers. The speed that team possesed made Mexico look like the second best team in qualifiers. Then Aguedelo got hurt Gatt was recalled and then heck we decided not to defend at the most inoppotune times. You wonder what if had Williams and Chandler been on that team. I think the Olympics would have been completely different.

    • Heck… even without the missing players, Porter had a much better lineup available than the one he used…

      He decided to use his best remaining DMid (Kitchen) as CB when he had Sheanon Williams on the bench (who could have added some height to the CB position).

      He left a fresh Joe Gyau on the bench, even though Gyau was a terror against Mexico for a solid hour only a month before.

  10. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Gatt starting tomorrow with Gyau coming off the bench to replace Gatt. Lets not forget about Shea as well going forward.

  11. There’s something about the way Gatt dribbles. You can tell he’s not a guy who just pushes the ball forward and runs to get there. Gatt has clearly learned to really combine his blistering pace with an excellent eye for navigating space. He moves the ball into the right areas and does it deceptively. He’s not just your average kick and run winger. This kid will make you sweat.

  12. Very much agree with this. The United States has been looking less than impressive on the flanks until they add a little something else. With Graham Zusi, they got great service. It was redundant to have him and Torres on the flanks though, especially since Torres isn’t really a final pass kind of guy anyways. Once they added Eddie Johnson to that flank, the U.S. finally had another guy darting into the channels, taking defenders on, getting in the box, and maybe even creating a little space for our more sophisticated ball players.

    That, to me, is really similar to what Bob Bradley had done with this U.S. side from the Confederations Cup on. He turned to Donovan and Dempsey as the creators and string pullers, while Altidore and another forward ran off them, either trying to stretch the defense vertically and horizantally to create space, or get into space themselves.

  13. You need to get Sr. USMNT minutes now, as a 20 year old, if you want a shot at the 2014 WC. You will be 22 with 2 years experience and 10 or more caps you’ll be as ready as you will ever be to the date. If your going to drag the players to friendlies, play them. I expect them not to start, but should be given at least a few minutes, if there is an injury, then,,,trial by More likely with a “liberal” sub rule. which will allow some extra subs, you could get three extra subs and using them to blood new players is a good tool.

    • Shouldn’t be hard to get minutes for all of the young guys.

      Start Gatt on the wing opposite Gomez. (Or Agudelo, depending on camp performance)
      Sub Agudelo for Gatt at halftime.
      Bring Gyau on for Gomez after the hour mark.
      Bring Mix on for Williams or Jones around the hour mark.
      Switch Johnson for Howard at half.
      Bring Boyd on for Jozy after the hour mark.

  14. What about DeLeon on the flanks to provide some width. I’m not sure he’s fast enough for the international game, but he’s demonstrated good two-way tactical sense and the ability to play out wide, while pinching in from time to time.

    • I like DeLeon as an option for the Gold Cup. But he’s far from ready to see meaningful minutes at the moment. Luckily he’s only 23 and Zusi has shown, if you’re in MLS, you tend to start slow before getting noticed.

    • Assuming he doesn’t opt to play for Trinidad and Tobago. His dad was a TnT International, so he’s almost certainly dual eligible. Far as I know, he hasn’t played for them yet, but I’d bet he gets asked come Gold Cup time.

    • While DeLeon has only a single pro season under his belt, I think he is worthy of coming in for the January camp. He’s been consistent all season (minus a few missed games due to injury) which is rare with rookies. He’s also strong on the ball and wouldn’t be afraid to take on players like Felipe Baloy or Roger Espinoza.

      Josh D’s the first person I’ve heard suggest him for the Gold Cup, but contingent on a strong January camp, that might be a good idea. Think he’d be a bench player on such a squad, though. He was looking pretty gassed at the end of the last playoff game.

      That said, Dale Dynamo!

  15. imagine how fast our team would be if we had these two as outside mids with FJ and chandler ovelapping. Speed is less useful in a side that is supposed to be very possession based which JK wants, but it nonetheless brings danger having 4 guys who can get to the endline so quickly.


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