Americans Abroad: Gatt set for big stage, Dempsey matches McBride
Josh Gatt wasn't on the field as his team cemented a monumental achievement, but that doesn't mean he won't be able to reap the benefits of his club's first league championship.
Gatt's Molde FK played to a draw over the weekend, and that, combined with Brann's victory over Rosenborg, ensured that the injured American's team will win the league championship in Norway's top flight and secure the 2012-2013 UEFA Champions League berth that goes along with the title.
Coached by former Manchester United striker and reserves coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Gatt thrived in his first professional season in Norway before suffering a hamstring injury that cut his season short. His pace and technical skill make him a natural flank attacker -- even though he was used on the right wing and at fullback with Molde -- and his dynamic showing this season is evidence of why he's widely considered to be among the top echelon of U.S. prospects to watch over the coming years.
Barring an unexpected transfer elsewhere, the 20-year-old Gatt will get a chance to compete in the Champions League next summer (Molde, which also employs seldom-used young American left back Sean Cunningham, will enter in the second qualifying round of the tournament), which would be quite the landmark feat in the U.S. Under-20 international's brief career. It would also provide a chance for another American to make some headlines in the competition, following in the semi-recent footsteps of Maurice Edu and DaMarcus Beasley, among others.
As far as some Americans have come in terms of overseas club soccer, the only one currently taking part in the Champions League is Bayer Leverkusen goalkeeper David Yelldell, and he's unlikely to see any minutes in the competition unless current starter Bernd Leno gets injured, suspended or demoted.
Should Gatt compete in the Champions League, he'd hold one of the few distinctions that Clint Dempsey has yet to realize in his prolific career abroad. And while a transfer to a Champions League club might be in the cards down the line for Dempsey, his list of accomplishments at Fulham continues to grow nevertheless.
Dempsey added another bullet point to his resume with his latest goal for Fulham, a go-ahead score and eventual game-winner against Wigan Athletic over the weekend. The tally brought him level with former Cottager and U.S. striker Brian McBride for most career goals in the Premier League by an American (36), a total that Dempsey has accumulated in fewer then five complete seasons in England.
Aside from Gatt's team accomplishment and Dempsey's record tally, the week was notable for a few other Americans as well. Sacha Kljestan accounted for a goal and an assist for Anderlecht, Chris Rolfe maintained his form with another assist, Oguchi Onyewu returned to action after suffering a groin injury and Jermaine Jones continued his resurgence as a regular starter at Schalke. Here's how they and the rest of the Americans playing abroad fared over the past week (season statistics encompass all competitions):