The Kids Are All Right: Gatt, Gil, and Fagundez Break Out

There’s been some hand-wringing lately about the cupboard being bare when it comes to rising U.S. soccer talent. In the past week, though, three players offered some welcome counterpoints. Add them to the likes of Juan Agudelo, Perry Kitchen, Joseph Gyau, and Charles Renken, and you can start to feel a little bit better about the future.

First up, Josh Gatt, 19, of Plymouth, Michigan. He played half a season in the Austrian second division last year, then jumped to Molde of the Norwegian top flight this season.

It’s going well: The club is in first place, and Gatt has made 14 appearances and scored two goals, including this one last Thursday, in which he may have forced the retirement of an IK Start defender, so badly did he juke the poor fella:

Molde won that game 2-1 and sit five points clear of second-place Brann after 19 games.

Next is Luis Gil, 17, of Garden Grove, Calif., who appears to have earned a starting central midfield spot at Real Salt Lake. Here he is on Saturday night, rifling his first MLS goal past Red Bulls keeper Frank Rost, a Bundesliga veteran with 20 years of professional experience and four caps for Germany:

Notice how happy Gil’s much older teammates are for him. Here’s RSL coach Jason Kreis after the game:

“Anytime someone scores their first goal for us, you kind of get a little emotional with the moment. And Luis is a kid that has worked extremely hard for us. He’s done an extremely good job of keeping his head down and not listening to other people around him telling him that he should be playing all the time … and just improved his game, and improved his game and improved his game. Now he’s ready for the moment. It was great to see him take advantage of it tonight.”

Third, we have Diego Fagundez, 16, of Leominster, Mass., the New England Revolution’s first Home Grown player. He made his first-team debut in a 3-2 loss to Chivas USA on Saturday, drawing a penalty kick (that Shalrie Joseph buried) and scoring his first MLS goal:

He did tug Zarek Valentin’s shirt to get position there, but hey, it was subtle enough that he got away with it. Savvy move for the youngster, who became the second-youngest player ever to score in MLS. You can probably guess the youngest, who, coincidentally, also did it in a 3-2 loss.

We’re not saying any of these kids is the next Landon Donovan, but there’s plenty of talent in this country and—thanks to changes like this, and this—more on the way.

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