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Gatt flashes speed, promise as one of few bright spots for USMNT vs. Canada

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HOUSTON – In match that will be remembered for failed chances and missed opportunities, Joshua Gatt was one of the closest things to a silver lining for the U.S. Men’s National Team after Tuesday’s drab showing.

The Molde winger jolted a stagnant USMNT performance to life when he entered in the second half and promptly brought the speed and forcefulness that earned him a start in Russia three months ago. The speedster did his best to penetrate and create chances against a Canada defense that was intent on sitting in.

In the end Gatt’s probing performance, like the U.S. attack as a whole, was long on runs but short on legitimate chances created.

Heading into the Hexagonal, however, the winger’s performance as a second-half spark could very well have been an audition for the role he would likely play in a U.S. squad with his full assortment of weapons.

Accepting that assumption, Gatt likely left BBVA Compass Stadium with high marks on head coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s report card.

“Anything the coaches ask of me I want to do and I’m happy to do and I want to be the best at doing it,” Gatt told reporters. “I always do what’s asked of me with my team whether it’s coming off the bench as a sub or to start the game and play as many minutes as I can. [Tonight] my role is to come off the bench provide a spark and bring some energy.”

Gatt’s ability to get out and pressure defenses on the wing is no surprise for the faithful that follow his career in Norway. On Tuesday he showed an ability to beat defenders with pace, and get to the endline, though some of his moves ended in disappointing fashion.

Overall, Gatt’s performance provided a much needed lift against a young Canadian squad that was intent on making the things difficult by playing an ultra-defensive 4-5-1 formation.

“I thought in a friendly they would be tying to go forward and trying to attack a little more,” Gatt said. “Definitely tried my best to try and stretch Canada. They were very compact and very defensive.”

That mentality has made the winger a favorite among the U.S. fan base for his ability as a driving force, long since making him a popular call up target for fans. Until recently, however, those calls have been unfounded as the youngster developed touch and technique to go with his blazing speed.

In November against Russia that transformation started to turn into production as he put in a good performance on the right wing.

Tuesday night Gatt took another step in that direction. Was it perfect, though? No. The youngster has to take the next step with his final decision and pass to set up his teammates for chances, and there were several examples of this against Canada.

But the promise was certainly on display.

“When you see that the team is just going to sit back and do that you have to just go for and throw yourself at the net and really get that goal because it’s important for us to win these games,” Gatt said. “[Teams] will sit back on us and we really need to work on going forward and get some type of chances and scoring some goals.”

Up next for Gatt is to wait to hear if he will be included in next week’s World Cup qualifier at Honduras, something that is a distinct possibility considering the lack of wing options. According to Klinsmann, the squad will convene in Miami this weekend.

What did you think of Gatt’s performance? Should he be a part of the squad that takes on Honduras?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Gatt is a project. I admire his intensity, we need more of that, but he’s nearly 22 years old and he still plays with his head down. Speed beats poorly organized teams but not good teams that play sound team defense. He needs to get his head up and increase his awareness of other players on the field. His speed won’t save him at the international level, if he doesn’t learn the finer points of the game. He still has a lot to learn to put that speed to good use.

  2. That cry baby mentality is typical of kids in our youth system. Trust me, you should hear them talk to their parents after tournaments. Wow!

  3. People need to take a deep breath and realize he is a 21 yo PROSPECT. Yes he was wastful with the ball but that shows hunger and drive. The team did not play to his strengths. When you get Bradley and Dempsey playing diagonal balls over the top for him to run on to he will show well. He’s not ready to start but a half hour at the end when the D is getting tired that type of pace is a game changer. Yes he needs to work on his decision making and final ball but that comes with time.

  4. I thought that Gatt had a couple of nice runs, but he needs to keep his head up once he beat the defender off the dribble and gets the defenders scrambling. The guy seems promising, but let’s not make him the next Maradona based on 1-2 plays in a friendly against Canada:)

  5. i think gatt has good potential, but for our tactics and his limited left foot, you gotta put that dude on the right! you want him cutting into traffic with nobody overlapping to pass to?

    • Gatt usually plays on the right, and JK used him on the right against Russia. Why on the left last night? Two thoughts. First, JK wanted to see his versatility. Second, JK knows he has a fairly large following for a U.S. soccer player. Maybe the coach wanted to highlight a few limitations, so the fan club will understand why he isn’t starting over Zusi.

      Zusi should have lost the starter job last night. That was atrocious. But Gatt isn’t ready to step in yet. Meaning… when is Donovan getting back?

  6. Cant believe you guys are this critical about gatt. Oh wait I can. Out of all the terrible plays in this game gatt definately had the few bright spots in the game. Yes he wasn’t great but compared to everyone else he did well. At least he was going forward, taking people on, and being creative. Something that no other play was really doing on the pitch. For that I give him credit. Yes he wont be much of a difference this cycle but the kid is 21. We still have him for a quality 10 years.

  7. Gatt looked like a fast version of your average high-school player. He had no business being on the field with the USMNT. Klinsmann better get it together on talent recognition or the hex is going to be trouble.

    • No Gooch, Goodson, Torres either. No Wondo or Davis or Evans. You gotta be kidding me this kid couldn’t come in in the 75th or later and make the other D vomit. Seriously, he’ll flourish with MB in there.

  8. Gatt will be on the WC Squad come brazil. He is in the right time of his life for this. Still young, fearless. Reminds me of Landon Donovan prior to WC 2002.

  9. Pro: He’s fast, appears pretty technically gifted, on of the rare pure speed wingers we have

    Cons: tactically deficient, no left foot it seems, complains way too much – I mean seriously stop whining after every play you crybaby

    Conclusion: A very green talent with some promise. Would be interesting to include him in the WCQ squad since he has that speed and technical element we’re very deficient in looking at our player pool, especially without Landon. Good player to bring into games when you need a spark. Not quite ready for the elite international fixtures, but for CONCACAF he should help out.

  10. Gatt needs to combine the killer/final pass to his speed and dribbling. Upside for Gatt? Oh heck yes! His passing will come in time. I like his tactical view point of a team packing it in the final third to just go at the net ( passes to the top of the penalty area and box it out there for a shot on goal..simple and direct enough for me…) It would be nice to see MORE midfielders passing to forwards…a basic fundamental aspect of the game.

  11. I need to chime in. For everyone, including last night’s commentators, who thinks Zusi is Donovan’s “replacement”, I ask that we look more towards Gatt. Joshua may have lost the ball a few times but guess what? He took people on. Zusi holds the ball well and has some vision but his “speed” doesn’t compare with Donovan or Gatt. Did anyone keep their eyes on Gatt off the ball? Did you see how many runs he wanted to make but the lack of vision from our midfield or even fullback spots left his efforts futile. A Bradley or someone will pick up on that and shoot the ball forward for him to run on to. I’m not saying the kid should start, but he should definitely be the young Beas or Donovan circa 2001-2002 that we desperately need off the bench!!

    • Yes. Gatt made good runs off the ball. Gatt ‘gets it’ and ‘knows it’ just needs polishing and seasoning. Gold cup roster spot for sure but WCQ roster too

      • Do people under stand that these players, are in preseason form? Training isn’t enough. It takes a couple of games before you get your fitness up.

      • No, clearly you don’t understand all the elitist “get it” and “know it”, NOT Gatt! Geez Mike, quit being rational and approaching things in an appropriate manner. I shall not stand for not grandstanding!:-)

      • He should of started at the point of the diamond. Why the hell did Klinsy start a utility DM at the point of attack? As usual there is a least one head scratcher in the line up.

    • I never understood why he wasn’t a staple in the b-side. Fitness maybe? I think both Benny and Zusi are backups to the position Holden will reclaim in due time.

  12. I want my country to win a World Cup. Are we on the right path when writers say that Gatt is a bright spot, I think not. By what standard is he a bright spot? Spain’s standard? Brazil’s standard?

    • That is not the point of this discussion thread. I’m a soccer fan period. I want my teams to win, and I want young players with promise to reach their highest dreams.

      • How soccer talent is rated in the US is an underlying theme in this thread and others this week. The dichotomy between how people are rating a player like Gatt is a great illustration of how it can differ. And if you’re in the camp that think that the US system is incapable of discovering technically skilled players, than that problem outweighs most other observations.

  13. Yes, Gatt was entertaining, perhaps the only entertaining aspect of this game, but he is not yet much of a soccer player. With one exception, he dribbled the ball into traffic until he lost it, on the one occasion he did not lose possession,outright he made a poor pass that came back to him and he promptly hit that to no one on the far side of the field, ending any threat.

  14. I know 17 year old’s who are more mature and have ten times the composure. I’m watching the game from the international standard, not the MLS standard. He reminded me of U12 who wanted to impress his coach by running around like it’s a freaking track meet. Can’t blame him though, that’s the standard in US soccer, big, strong and fast. He’s just a product of that.

  15. Gatt’s speed, quickness and willingness to take players on 1v1 is enticing but his immaturity is disappointing. “Things” are always happening to him. Players are always fouling him. Refs are not protecting him. He simply MUST grow up!

    • It tells you that I am a U-17, U-20, and USMNT fan…who happens to live in Dallas and support my local team. Or, were you trying to say something else?

      • That Shea is a freaking tool who has blown an opportunity we sorely need to develop. But that’s ok, bag on Gatt, even though he’ll be better than Shea in a year, in my opinion.

  16. Gatt was NOT a bright spot. What the hell were you watching Ives? All he is fast and NOTHING else. Not technical and FAR from tactically rich.

    • Hm….a lot of substance in this post. What does that even mean, “FAR from tactically rich”? He was a winger for half a game for crying out loud, what specific tactics did he not employ? He recovered fine on defense, seemed to shift well enough and was never caught out of position. On offense he forced several defenders out of positions, and yes, gave the ball up because of limited options. No one is saying he’s the next Ronaldo, but he was arguably the most exciting player on the field, and the only US player taking attacking initiative.

      Perhaps the question is, what the hell game you were watching?

      • People are being a bit harsh on Gatt. I don’t believe he was really a “bright spot” as the article says, but he wasn’t terrible either. His attempts to break down Canada’s defense alone put him above almost all other players. It was THAT bad of a game offensively. To be fair to him, Canada was not set up in a way to allow Gatt to flourish. He could come on in an end to end type game and be VERY dangerous. He just needs some space to run in to. That did not exist with Canada stuck in their own half the entire match with 11 behind the ball. Bright spots for me were Benny and Beckerman I suppose but even they weren’t anything too special.

  17. The Gatt vs. Shea comparison is interesting. I think Shea is better in almost every category except acceleration and the one that might matter the most–heart. Not saying that Shea doesn’t put in an honest shift, but Gatt’s an animal out there. If you put his motor, intensity in Shea you’re looking at Gareth Bale. The look on Gatt’s face is pure college linebacker. Nice to have both in their early 20’s, and they could end up being huge for us, if not in this cycle, but the next. Now if we just had some creative guys to unlock a defense. How old is that Junior Flores kid again???

  18. I disagree with a lot of the people posting. I think Gatt’s movement off the ball was very good and he would have impressed a lot more had the long balls out of the back been remotely close to him. The passing out of the midfield was god awful.

    • this is the best point made on this feed. A billion negative comments on him, while he got NO help and HORRIBLE service out of the back and mid! We will have to see more from him…

  19. Until we stop getting excited about speed and focus more on technical skills, we will continue to have these less than exciting results.

  20. Gatt = Cobi Jones without the tan. Gatt is a great athlete but not much of a soccer player at this point. Twellman rightly called him out for being all right footed last night.

  21. So all a guy has to do to be a “bright spot” is run fast? He showed some pace and effort, but his attitude was poor and once he got on the ball he tried to do too much on his own and ended up losing possession.

    No one looked in sync, and I’m starting to worry that Klinsy’s training methods are becoming counterproductive.

    • Attitude was poor? Frustrated maybe, but he also looked like one of the only players who were actually fired up about the weak performance and course of the game. I’d say after that game, we could use more of that attitude. I call it drive, I guess you call it poor attitude.

      • I don’t think he attitude is poor. However, it was very comical that every time he got the ball taken away, he jumped up and down with his arms firmly against his sides like some poor penguin trying to fly.

        That would be my only complaint: He didn’t get up and chase after the ball. Let’s see more of that determination.

      • Examples of poor attitude during the game: Complaining about a non-foul instead of chasing the ball after losing it. Stopping his runs and throwing his arms in the air in frustration when he should keep going to open space for his teammates. Shaking his head when we switched the attack away from his side.

        I think he’s got a bright future if we keep him involved, but for a player trying to stake his claim to a World Cup spot, this is not what I want to see.

      • So Clint Dempsey has the worst attitude ever Brett. You are a genius and a scholar. The kid is 21 years old and trying to impress in his second cap man. His team played like ass, and they were for the most part all more experienced and older. I’d act disgusted and pissed too. He got clipped when he dribbled back into the middle taking four guys on and no foul.

        I think some on here are either a) drunk or b) just pissed we didn’t win 600-0.

      • And the “dribble to the middle to take 4 guys on” part is a strike against him too.

        I’m not sure why people keep bringing up his age. I’m not saying we should send him packing, I’m saying he didn’t have a great showing. Sorry if I seem harsh on the kid, but the international level IS harsh.

        Dempsey’s attitude has always bothered me, but his desire to improve himself and his flair have made him a stellar player. If Gatt starts producing what Dempsey does, I’ll give him some slack on his attitude.

    • Klinsy recognizes that our depth players need an education as well. Think of it as the next step after U-23. Unfortunately for us, the quality of our depth is low and the USSF needs to sell tickets.

  22. Honestly Gatt’s performance rose Brek Shea some in my estimation. Neither player is the finished article, but compared to Gatt, Shea seems a lot more polished. It might be time to take the Europe off goggles off and admit some developing MLSers might have just as much to contribute as players excelling in Norway.

    • ?? Not sure where you got that Shea still looks raw and one dimensional. After watching yesterday game and the fact Shea is leaving, in my eyes MLS has little to nothing to offers the US Nats int terms of players and soccer development. How do they expec it to improve when you hire guys who had little technical ability like Petke to be the gaffer of an organization.?

      • Think it’s since Shea can sometimes be tentative and looks to pass first; he keeps shape defensively and maintains possession. Gatt in this cameo was looking to run first, and often dribbled into trouble. We’ve seen more of Shea but with Gatt it’s probably too little to generalize; Gatt has promise and speed is impossible to teach. I wonder if putting him out on the right would allow his crossing to improve.

    • Different players. Brek is bigger, GATT is faster. Both are creative. Brek is better with both feet, Gatt has better first touch. Brek is abetted crosser of the ball, while Josh is a better dribbler.

      • Brek offers a presence on the field thanks to his size. Brek is also more creative with the ball at his feet and is a better crosser. Gatt has better close ball control and better speed. Neither are quick minded or very good passers.

        I’d take Brek over Gatt at the moment.

  23. Between Gatt and Bedoya, we have some promising young wingers with pace for the national team. Then again, DaMarcus Beasley is a very good left wing with blazing pace and great crosses. I don’t know why RunDMB is on the outs with the national team and/or Klinsmann, but we certainly have a wing option that is not being used. What’s the scuttlebutt on Beasley? Why isn’t he being called into the national team if he’s currently playing well and producing in Mexico?

    In any case, if Gatt and Bedoya are two of the young guys that come out of this camp to play a role in qualifiers, that’s promising. Gatt also had some great comments post match that showed some real tactical savvy and soccer IQ. “I guess the frustration is not only with them, but with us,” midfielder Joshua Gatt said. “As a team, we did a good job keeping of the ball, but when our attacking players were going through, we didn’t get a lot of the quality balls in behind. We really needed to put the dagger in them, and that was our problem tonight. We did a good job in the two-thirds that were the midfield and defensive, but in the final third we lacked the killer ball, the killer shot and the killer pass. That was our problem tonight.”

    • Beasley has been looking good for awhile now and very good the last few games. He plays the full field. He will be up ahead of the forward one second and on the back line the next.

    • I’m sorry but DeMarcus Beasley… this is our hope for the wing? No thanks… watching him play usually involves a lot of speed, one maybe two nice crosses, and a whole lot of bad decisions.

      My least favorite quality in a player at the national level is timidness on the field. What Gatt showed last night was that he will run at anyone, and take people on, even get a little chippy. Instantly won me over. Technical v not technical… we can teach that. But after watching the game last night I’d rather have a player with heart than a fast guy who doesn’t get in.

    • That’s dangerous logic Eugene, you may get skewered by all the experts on here who have played the game for 6 million years and “know potential when they see it, and this kid doesn’t have it.” Seriously, good post.

      • No offense, but that’s ridiculous. RVP for years had pretty much no right foot. That doesn’t mean he’s not technical. It means he’s a great technical player with a weakness.

      • Comparing him to RVP is ridiculous. Consider Aaron Lennon as well for what qualities Gatt is lacking. You can/should have technicals to go along with that speed at the international level.

        Gatt did not impress.

      • No, Gatt was more like a blend between Messi, and Falcao.

        LOL. TomG was not saying that Gatt and RVP are comparable, he was saying that even the most technical players have their weaknesses. Dense stuff, I know. Just keep it up and you will learn it all in no time.

      • Sometimes players with no left foot also lack other skills… and sometimes weak players are fast. Was that germane?

      • How about we compare him to Bale? No right foot. And he plays very similar to him, takes on 2-3 defenders and you think its a bad idea until he actually beats them. Or Arjen Robben. Everyone knows the guy plays on only 1 leg and he is still one the most technical players in the world. Serious though Gatt reminds me of a less developed Bale.

      • Robben and Bale were twice the player Gatt is now. Both used tricks and skills to get past players, not just speed. They both could pick their head up and pass or cross, and both offer shots.

        Gatt scores, but I wouldn’t consider him to have a shooting boot. Gatt is a Lennon: Pure speed, decent dribbling, horrendous decision making and poor distribution. Lennon has pulled himself together recently, and Gatt lucky has enough time to as well. But he is not styled off the more creative Robben and Lennon.

  24. I think Gatt should be part of the squad but don’t think he has business starting in a WCQ yet. He clearly is a talent for us and should have a role with the team. The US team has far to many players content to pass around in circles and backwards, not nearly enough decisive decision makers and Gatt clearly is decisive.

    • Gatt has some potential but is too raw for this cycle. It’s too late with the Hex starting in a few days. I Would like see him integrated early for the 2018 cycle and see what we get then.

    • I don’t think he’s decisive at all. Unless you consider get the ball and dribble until defenders steal it away. I didn’t see him once get the ball, pick up his head, dribble into space, pick his head up and make the pass. Every time he dribbled he either lost it or held on it too long to make the pass across the face of goal. I appreciate that he actually tried pushing the ball forward as everyone else relied on back passes, but as a big fan of his, I think it’s best if we let him boil a little more on the side.

      We loads of athletic players with speed – that’s the type of athletes we produce. But we have a tough time developing smart players who know how to make a pass and when.

      I think Gatt has a bright future, but he needs to head to a league that’s going to challenge and develop him. Jozy has done very well in the Netherlands; I hope Gatt gets there soon.

      • We might produce more athletic players than skilled players, but it’s been a long time since we had one that fast. He runs the 100m in 11 flat. So did Klinsmann in his day, and he rose to the top of a deep German pool and stayed there for three World Cup cycles.

        I don’t think even Beasley can run that fast, and Gatt doesn’t lose the ball because he’s misplaying it over the touchline.

        Not saying Gatt will replicate anything like Klinsmann’s success. Just noting that in a land of good athletes, Gatt is faster than most.

      • Gatt is fast – but he is nowhere near an 11 flat 100 meter runner. That claim comes from one Norwegian article by a writer who may not have even understood him. Gatt claimed that he could run 11 flat according to the article – but gave no evidence of having ever done so.

        In H.S. he couldn’t even break 50 seconds for 400M – and he was not fast enough to even run the 100.

    • haha I completely agree. I think people were so bored watching nothing happen and no one event attempting to create anything they just got very excited to see someone running fast across the screen. What did Gatt do exactly? He ran fast and took players on but was not dangerous. I loved his energy and praise him for trying to make something out of nothing , but he still never produced anything.

      • His runs drew the defenders out of shape, one time pulling four defenders over and leaving a huge field of open space that nobody exploited.

      • Agreed, he just dribbled until he lost the ball. If that kid were on a HS school team (and lost the ball so consistently), the coach would not give him many more chances.

      • If he were on a high school team, people couldn’t catch him, so quite being a whiner.

        If anyone wold make a run of consequence – or if JK wasn’t playing a righty at left mid – then maybe he could get a cross off. Better than Benny’s no angle shots at the keeper. But let’s praise Captain Menstruation for being a “bright spot”. You guys are a damn bunch of jokes, it was a C squad, Honduras will be a wee bit different.

      • Only Gatt was playing to win. The rest of the USMNT were playing NOT to lose. For that alone, he should receive kudos, regardless of the end-result.

    • I was impressed with Gatt’s ability to energize the team. However… I want to see him use his left foot for something other than running.


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