Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By IVES GALARCEP
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.