Josh Gatt and the Youth National Team program had a very pleasant first encounter last week.
Saturday, young professional Gatt capped a sparkling U.S. U20 debut at the team's training camp in Florida by recording two goals and three assists as the U.S. hammered the Canadians 5-0.
Gatt had traveled for his YNT debut from his new home abroad where he plays for Austrian club SCR Altach, having signed there last winter.
“Camp is great,” said Gatt, who hopes to be invited back to the next camp in early January as the U20 squad continues to prepare for the CONCACAF U20 Qualifying Tournament, which begins April 3 in Guatemala. “There are a lot of very good players here which is pushing me to work very hard.”
For Gatt, a former member of the Discover Europe™ travel squad, his camp performance was an extension of his continued improvement. In just over the span of a few months the 19-year-old has gone from receiving limited minutes with SCR Altach to earning a starting role while contributing four league goals.
In Saturday’s final meeting of the two-match friendly with Canada’s U20 group Gatt was arguably the top player on the field creating havoc with his trademark speed. But he was far from the only standout.
Joe Gyau co-starred with a hat-trick, connecting with Gatt twice in the second half following his opening score in the 12th minute. Gyau is another promising talent who signed professionally with German club Hoffenheim in 2009.
Gatt and Gyau started at the wings along with striker Conor Doyle and midfielders Amobi Okugo, Dillon Powers and Kelyn Rowe. Zac MacMath started in goal with defenders: Gregory Garza, Perry Kitchen, Greg Agbossoumonde and Zarek Valentin.
Gatt notched both of his goals in the second half on assists from Valentin and Rowe.
The U.S. squad also defeated Canada 2-0 on Thursday in a match that featured a much different lineup.
Kevin Piedrahita, Korey Veeder, Sebastian Ibeagha, Eric Schoenle, Ben Sweat, Jack McInerney, Conor Shanosky, Steven Evans, Dylan Mares, Soony Saad and Adrian Ruelas occupied the pitch for most of the match for the Americans.
Philadelphia Union striker McInerney scored in the 50th minute while Saad also notched an impressive 25-yard half-volley score in the 34th.
It’s nothing new for Saad, one of the top strikers of the ball in the country, who helped lead unsung Michigan to the College Cup as he was named BigTen Freshman of the Year.
“It was nice being in camp. It was kind of a tough adjustment coming off the college season,” he said.
When the subject turned to the College Cup, where the Wolverines suffered a semifinal loss to eventual champion Akron, Saad declined to comment.
“Not until we win the College Cup next season,” he said.
U.S. U20 MNT Roster By Position:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Zac MacMath (Maryland; St. Petersburg, Fla.), Kevin Piedrahita (América de Cali; Queens, N.Y.)
DEFENDERS (8): Gale Agbossoumonde (G.D. Estoril Praia; Syracuse, N.Y.), Greg Garza (G.D. Estoril Praia; Grapevine, Texas),
Sebastien Ibeagha (Duke; Missouri City, Texas), Perry Kitchen (Akron; Indianapolis, Ind.), Eric Schoenle (West Virginia; Yardley, Pa.),
Ben Sweat (South Florida; Palm Harbor, Fla.), Zarek Valentin (Akron; Lancaster, Pa.), Korey Veeder (Unattached; St. Petersburg, Fla.)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Steven Evans (Portland; Troutdale, Ore.), Joshua Gatt (SC Rheindorf Altach; Plymouth, Mich.), Joe Gyau (TSG 1899 Hoffenheim; Silver Spring, Md.), Alex Molano (NK Dinamo Zagreb; Grapevine, Texas), Amobi Okugo (Philadelphia Union; Sacramento, Calif.), Dillon Powers (Notre Dame; Plano, Texas), Kelyn Rowe (UCLA; Newport Beach, Calif.), Conor Shanosky (D.C. United; Sterling, Va.)
FORWARDS (6): Conor Doyle (Derby County FC; McKinney, Texas), Dylan Mares (Louisville; Zionsville, Ind.), Jack McInerney (Philadelphia Union; Alpharetta, Ga.), Adrian Ruelas (Celtic F.C.; Fontana, Calif.), Soony Saad (Michigan; Dearborn, Mich.), Omar Salgado (Unattached; El Paso, Texas)