DAVID SMITH - Friday, November 18, 2011
Midway through his second season at Hoffenheim, US Olympic team prospect Joseph-Claude Gyau feels the recent influx of German talent and direction will only help his own country's game grow.
Gyau joined the Bundesliga upstarts in the summer of 2010, and has spent the time since establishing himself as one of the brighter prospects within their youth system.
His trek to the most recent U23 camp in Duisburg, Germany was perhaps one of the shortest amongst the more than 30 participants, however he feels the time spent amongst both old and new teammates has been nothing but positive.
"I'm really enjoying the camp, getting to see some old faces, some new faces, and I think we're all gelling really well," Gyau told YA in Duisburg. "The level of the players here is pretty high to everybody has to bring their a-game to the table, which I think is good."
During the ten-day camp, the squad has tested their wits in a quartet of split-squad test games, with Gyau spending time occupying a role in the wide areas of a three-man front line in the two matches which involved the older group of players.
While this parallels his recent play on the wing at Hoffenheim, he does point out subtle differences which play into a more defined role in the US setup.
"With the 4-3-3 system we play in Hoffenheim, neither outside guys just stay on the outside," he explains. "We usually, switch and play everywhere."
"Here, they were wanting to use the width a little more as a weapon, and that worked perfectly [...]."
Returning to the style employed by his club team, Gyau clearly sees the intentional amalgamation of creativity and discipline which has brought Germany and many of the country's players to the forefront of the soccer world in recent years, both on a league and national team level.
"They want the system to be more fluid, not exactly a South American style, but more fluid, where everybody has more freedom," he evaluates.
"But the Germans are also more strict with the tactics. So when you are on defense, you have to come back into position, but on offense, we do a lot of interchanging."
This is something he sees gradually coming more into play in the game of his native country through various avenues, and a factor which he feels will ultimately bolster the team's ability to perform in the long run.
"I think the German discipline is coming more into the US team, and it's really good that we have the German roots and German-based players. You can see right now that Germany is coming up really well with their team. So if we can get some of their guys and some of that influence on this team it could really help us."
Having been well indoctrinated into the German game since joining Hoffenheim's youth system in July, 2010, the Florida-born midfielder is confident the tools he has already grasped and will still is gain in the coming years will help bring his young career into the forefront.
"I think it is an advantage that I've been here in Germany awhile," he concludes. "When I first got [to Hoffenheim] I wasn't as keen on the tactics as I am now, so I think it did give me a little bit of an advantage."