BRIAN SCIARETTA - Monday, August 29, 2011
Despite suffering an injury in pre-season, American forward Dzenan Catic is looking forward to beginning his season with Kaiserslautern's U-23 team in the coming weeks.
Catic, 19, joined Kaiserslautern in May after impressing on trial in December. It will be the start of his career after excelling as a youth player in Michigan with the Derby County Wolves and at East Kentwood High School.
Early in the year, Catic was named Gatorade Player of the Year for Michigan but now he is focused on his career in Europe. He hasn't been able to play yet this season due to a pulled stomach muscle but he should be healthy in a few weeks.
Still, Catic is excited for the season ahead.
"Things are going good so far. I'm really happy with my choice of coming over here," Catic told YA from Germany. "I hope to have more success here than I had back in the US."
Since joining Kaiserslautern, Catic has found success at the forward position after playing most of his youth career as an attacking midfielder.
The offensive ability and technical superiority he showed in the States paved the way towards making the move to Europe. In his senior season at East Kentwood, Catic scored 45 goals and finished his four years with 103 tallies.
It did not take long for Catic to get noticed and have a trial with Kaiserslautern arranged.
"I got a trial through an agent that one of my coaches back in the US knew," Catic recalled of the process. "He recommended me to the agent and he invited me to come over. Ever since I went on trial everything went well and they gave me the contract. It was easy decision to sign."
While most top young players in the United States usually play in the NCAA before turning professional, Catic was not interested. He did have initial plans to attend Michigan State but once he secured an offer in Europe he did not hesitate in seizing the opportunity.
"I never knew much about the college game until a couple of years ago when I began the college recruiting process," Catic discussed. "I never really was interested in going to college, to be honest. I always knew that if I ever had the opportunity to come back to Europe and play I would definitely take it."
Catic's most significant steps as a player came with his club team the Derby County Wolves who are one of the premier youth clubs in the country. It is the same club that produced Josh Gatt and Sean Cunningham who are both considered among best young American prospects.
"My biggest development came when I started playing for the Derby County Wolves," Catic assessed. "I think that's where I made my biggest jumps from being just average to moving ahead and learning more about the game. There were great coaches there who create great training sessions and the players develop that way. I have to thank those people for giving me a lot of knowledge about the game."
As for his international future, Catic is a dual citizen with the United States and Bosnia. He was born in Bosnia but came to the United States when he was eight years old. In 2009, he became an American citizen.
Most of his development as a player has come in the United States but given his family roots in Bosnia, he admits that it would be a difficult decision on who to represent on the international level.
Catic has yet to represent either country on any youth level but he is pretty quick to state that the first country that calls will be at an advantage.
"To be quite honest right now, I don't have this problem at the moment," Catic said on his preference between playing for the US or Bosnia. "I wouldn't know what to say about it. But I think that the country that calls first is going to be in the lead for [my services]. Hopefully I do get called up by both countries and that is when I'll have to talk to my family to decide."
For now, Catic is solely focused getting healthy and getting on the field for FC Kaiserslautern's U-23 team. It is his top priority to improve as a player and make the club's first team which is coming off an impressive seventh place finish in the Bundesliga last year.
"I honestly don't know how far away from the first team I am," Catic concluded. "At the moment, I just hope to improve every day. I am working hard. I have a lot of work to do and I hope to keep improving my game. It is a goal for me to play on the first team here and it's a dream to play in front of their 50,000 fans. We will see what happens. All I can do is work hard."