MLS Moves: Loons sign Gatt after long European stay

As direct with his words as he can be with his play, winger Josh Gatt is crystal clear about what he’ll bring to Minnesota United in its first MLS season.

“Fast,” said Gatt, a native of Michigan who battled through several injury-marred seasons with Norwegian club Molde prior to being released last year. “Aggressive. Attacking. Risky. When I was a kid, my coach always told my parents that I was a high risk, high reward type player. I’m not the type of person who will take it in my own box and try to go up the field alone. I’m a player who, if I see an opening, I’ll take it.”

Gatt, 25, took his first opening nearly nine years ago to join SC Rheindorf Altach in Austria, and moved to Molde in 2011. His play while helping Molde win back-to-back titles earned him his first U.S. cap in November, 2012, against Russia. In 75 games for the two clubs he scored 15 goals and logged 15 assists.

Plagued by knee injuries the past two years, he’s been unable to regain a place in the first team and rumors of his possible return to MLS started a while ago.

“Josh has been on the American soccer radar for years,” said sporting director Manny Lagos. “He’s a young player, who left for Europe to build his career. He’s had some really good moments, and a couple of tough injuries. But I think this situation lines up perfectly, in regards to where Josh is as a player, and what we’re doing as a club.”

He has played a variety of positions but is best known as a right wing and as he said, he’ll add an element highly prized by most coaches and MNUFC boss Adrian Heath in particular.

“The main thing is that he brings us some excellent pace in wide areas,” said Heath. “I think he’s little bit different than what we already have at the club. He’s going to be another body in there that can get wide and behind them. It gives us another alternative.”

Gatt admits adjusting to a new league with an expansion team as well as coming off injury-plagued seasons won’t be easy, but at least he knows the territory.

“I’ve played my whole career as a pro in Europe,” said Gatt. “To come back home, it’s a nice revamp. It’s nice to be able to do what I love in a setting I’ve grown up in. Playing overseas is different in every way.

“Playing here, there’s a simplicity to it. Knowing what I know about the states: language, culture, geography … It’s not hard to adapt.”
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