U-23 MNT Forward Joshua Gatt Builds Off Early Pro Success
U.S. Under-23 Menâ€™s National Team forward Joshua Gatt had to get acclimated on several fronts over the past year. The most significant adjustments for the 20-year-old Plymouth, Mich., native included a move from winger to right back, and he found himself on a new team at the start of the year with Molde in Norway.
â€œItâ€™s great to see the sun, finally,â€ Gatt said from the U-23â€™s training camp at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
Weather and position switches did not affect Gattâ€™s ability to achieve success with Molde as his new side earned the Tippeligaen championship.
â€œThere are really no words I can say to describe how I felt after we won the gold, especially me fighting through injuries all season, fighting to play and eventually finding my groove and playing for a while,â€ Gatt said. â€œIt was the best feeling that Iâ€™ve ever felt before as a player.â€
Despite switching positions for Molde, Gatt still showcased how strong of a threat he can be on the offensive end of the pitch. His first goal with Molde â€“ a play where he nutmegged a player on the dribble, then nutmegged another on the strike â€“ serves as proper evidence.
â€œEither of those two positions feels natural to me now,â€ Gatt said. â€œAny position on the right side of the field, I feel very comfortable stepping out and playing that. Obviously wherever the coach asks me to play, Iâ€™ll definitely jump in and play it.â€
U-23 MNT head coach Caleb Porter is utilizing Gatt in his more natural position as the team continues its January camp, preparing for the 2012 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament in March. And Gatt continues to progress through the U.S. Soccer system, having been a part of the Michigan Wolves within the U.S. Soccer Development Academy and also playing for the U-20s back in 2010.
â€œIâ€™m really honored and flattered that I was chosen to be part of the U-23 squad, to possibly compete in the Olympics,â€ Gatt said. â€œWe have a great team, a great group of guys and a lot of quality players. I expect every single one of us to push each other to our max and get us ready for the Olympics.â€
This is Porterâ€™s third camp in determining who he will field for the March 22-26 qualifiers at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn. (tickets on sale through ussoccer.com).
â€œItâ€™s really showing me as a player and to all the other players where everybodyâ€™s good at, how we can gel together and how we can play,â€ Gatt said. â€œItâ€™s important to have a small camp, especially this close to qualifying. I think itâ€™s important to narrow it down and get everybody feeling comfortable in their position for this team.â€
Gattâ€™s professional career already has taken off at a young age as he continues to develop his game. Gatt played for Rheindorf Altach in Austria in 2010. Then in January of 2011 he signed with Molde, where he contributed three goals in league play as the team earned its first Norwegian Premier League crown.
â€œThat really was a huge, instrumental deal for our club and for all us players,â€ Gatt said. â€œI thank my coaches for coming in and really taking the team and bringing us to the top, and my teammates. It was a great season for us. We fought hard the whole season from start to finish and we really deserved it.â€
Now Gattâ€™s focus is on making an impact for the U-23s to catapult his 2012 play, both at an international and club level.
â€œIâ€™m looking to bring everything weâ€™ve done last season, and me individually as a player, into my next season, whether it be with Molde or the National Team,â€ Gatt said. â€œIâ€™m looking to do my best and to become an even better player with my team. I think that if we all work as hard as we can, we can accomplish that.â€
The U-23s have a full slate on the docket that has included two scrimmages against the U.S. Menâ€™s National Team, followed by a trip to San Jose, Costa Rica, to face Saprissa Reserves (Jan. 21) and Alajuela (Jan. 24).
The U.S. MNT and U-23 scrimmages present a strong opportunity for the younger players to go head-to-head with the first team and continue their development. The first team, which is preparing for a Jan. 21 match against Venezuela (7 p.m. MT, Glendale, Ariz.; TICKETS; ESPN3/Galavision), also includes U-23 goalkeepers Bill Hamid and Sean Johnson, who both figure to be major components heading into Marchâ€™s Olympic Qualifying Tournament
â€œFor us to be able to play against the U.S. Menâ€™s National Team is a real test for us â€“ to see where we level out compared to the guys that are playing on the first team and to really prove that we either belong or we need some more time to fit in,â€ Gatt said before the scrimmages. â€œIâ€™m looking forward to those games. Iâ€™m looking forward as a team to show what weâ€™ve got, and for me individually to show what I can do.â€