CHRISTOPHER ANDERSON - Wednesday, November 17, 2010
The decision for young American players to come to Austria has yielded a mixed bag of results, but Josh Gatt does not regret his decision.
The Michigan native is steadily becoming a permanent feature in the Altach fold since coming on board this summer.
Having seen action in nine consecutive games with six of them as starter, the winger has earned his keep in the eyes of coach Adi Hütter, especially after hitting the back of the net twice so far.
His most recent goal last Saturday sealed the win for the Black and Golds, setting up a crucial matchup on Friday against the Erste Liga's leaders FC Admira, in which a win would bring the two level on point total.
"I'm very pleased with him," the Altach skipper has to say of Gatt. "He's made many steps forward since coming here this summer. He's getting better and better and I'm pleased to see that."
The Michigan Wolves product caught the eye of Hütter in the summer of 2009 during an exhibition tour, and inked the contract this past January, foregoing a chance to play at Indiana University. For the 19-year old, a move to the Alpine country made sense.
"I always wanted to be the best player I could be, and move as far as I could in my career," Gatt notesd to YA. "I felt that coming to Austria was the best fit to follow my dream and make it in Europe."
There were early signs of a breakthrough in the first round of the Stiegl Cup on Aug. 14, when the midfielder scored twice in a 8-0 rout of third-league minnows SVG Reichenau.
A few weeks later, Gatt saw his first league action as a 63rd minute substitute. By the end of September, he was a starter for the Vorarlberg club.
The highlight of his stint so far came on Oct. 22, when Gatt came on as a substitute and scored an insurance goal in a 2-0 win over Grödig.
"It felt great to get that weight off my shoulders, to get that first goal," he recalled last week after a Stiegl Cup loss to FC Vienna. "Now I just got to work on getting some more."
Gatt only needed to wait until the next game to see the back of the net again.
In spite of the Cup loss, the winger has his eyes set on long-term success with the Erste Liga club. With only three points separating them and the top spot, Altach have a good chance of nabbing the sole ticket to promotion and returning to the Austrian Bundesliga come July.
"I think [the season] is going great. We tied on a couple of big wins recently in a row and I feel really good about how we'll play until the [winter] break."
Friday's marquee matchup against FC Admira and next week's clash with Austria Lustenau will serve as the last two chances to push for the top spot before the three-month winter break.