EAST HARTFORD, Conn. -- Not so fast, DeAndre Yedlin. Seven games and one World Cup into the 21-year-old speedster's national team career, fellow youngster Joe Gyau may have already have surpassed Yedlin as the U.S. squad's fastest player.
"I might have to put my money on Joe," defender Tim Ream joked when asked who would win a footrace between the two, echoing the sentiments of several other players this week. "He's absolutely lightning-fast."
Gyau, who will be looking for his second international cap when the U.S. takes on Ecuador here Friday (7 p.m. ET, ESPN/Watch ESPN), has been moving quickly in more ways than one recently. The 21-year-old is just two months into his career with Borussia Dortmund, and already his wheels are helping him break into the Bundesliga titan's senior squad -- well ahead of schedule.
"I went there to play for [former U.S. international] David Wagner with the second team in the hopes that I would be able to break into the first team," Gyau told ESPNFC.com on Thursday. "We didn't know it was going to happen this fast."
Neither did anyone else. The wisdom of Gyau's move to Dortmund was questioned by many when it went down over the summer. After all, Gyau had made just two league appearances for Hoffenheim, a smaller top-flight team, last season. If he wasn't able to establish himself there, how (the thinking went) would he crack one of the deepest rosters in Europe?
Gyau didn't see it that way. "The style of play suits me perfectly," he said. "They play high-press football, they play the counterattack. I think those are two factors that are really strong points in my game."
There was also the lure of working with Jurgen Klopp, one of the world's best young managers with a proven track record of developing elite attacking talent.
Gyau impressed Klopp during the preseason, so much so that when several starters went down with injuries early in the campaign, the manager didn't hesitate to call the American up.
Gyau has been in Dortmund's match-day squad for five games since making his U.S. debut in a 1-0 win at the Czech Republic last month. On Sept. 24, he earned his first minutes for Dortmund, coming off the bench in 2-2 draw with Stuttgart. The feedback from Klopp has been positive.
"He always tells me to use my speed to try to beat one guy, then get a cross in or get a shot, to never be afraid or show any fear, to chase the ball back as soon as you lose it -- things like that," Gyau explained.
With the U.S., it's fitting that young burners like Gyau and Yedlin have started to establish themselves at the same time that Landon Donovan, who will play his final game for the Yanks on Friday, leaves the stage.
As the baton is passed, U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann is putting a clear emphasis on his evolving squad's need for speed, whether it comes from MLS, the Bundesliga or, in the case of Minnesota United midfielder Miguel Ibarra, the second-tier North American Soccer League.
Ream understands why.
"As a defender, I can't even begin to describe how much you hate when a guy can face you up, push the ball by you and run past you with it.
"It's one of the hardest things to defend against."
As for that race between Yedlin and Gyau?
"I'd love to see it," he said. "We might have to make that happen."