German-American Ashton Götz Arrives in Bundesliga
The 21-year-old Hamburg fullback took advantage of injuries to make his Bundesliga debut, and in the process showed he can compete in the top flight. Brian Sciaretta spoke with the German-American.
BY Brian Sciaretta PostedOVER THE PAST FIVE YEARS the German-American pipeline has transformed the United States men's national team, including core players such as Fabian Johnson, Jermaine Jones, and John Brooks. And these players continue to keep surfacing throughout various tiers of German football. The latest name to add to the list is Hamburg SV’s Ashton Götz who has been able to take advantage of injuries at the club to earn playing time in the Bundesliga this season. So far this season he has played in five games with Hamburg, making two starts. Götz, 21, was born in Pirmasens, Germany, located in the southwest state of Rhineland-Palatinate, very close to the French border. His background is very similar to many of the other German-Americans on the national team: his mother is German and his American father served in the U.S. army while stationed in Germany. Götz has been to the United States twice, most recently in 2008 for a soccer tournament in Chicago. He does have an admiration for the country and is well aware of the German-American presence on the national team—which includes his Hamburg teammate Julian Green. While he struggles with his English, which he learned in school, it is still passable. Regarding his international ambitions, has thought about and playing for the United States and said that the possibility “interests” him—even at the U-23 level for the Olympics. Götz, a right back, would fight for playing time with Timothy Chandler, DeAndre Yedlin, and Fabian Johnson. As of now, Yedlin appears to be the first choice for the Olympics but that is still not clear. All topics about his international future right now need to be muted because there is a snag: he does not have an American passport yet. Legally, Götz probably would be able to obtain a U.S. passport but to do so would likely mean reconnecting with his American father. The problem? He has neither met nor spoken to him. It is a problem that was similar to that of U.S. national team forward Terrance Boyd who had to undergo a lengthy and complicated process due to his estrangement with his father. “I’ve thought about playing for the USA a lot of times,” Götz told American Soccer Now from Germany. “It’s a really, really nice country. For me it is very interesting. The Olympics would also be interesting, for sure. But it’s not that easy to get a passport. We’ve thought about it. I’ve never spoken with my father. I don’t know him. He lives now in New York. That’s all I know.” For now, however, Götz is focused on continuing to earn playing time with Hamburg as it tries to pull away from the relegation zone where it currently sits in 14th place—just two points from safety. The topic of Hamburg’s Bundesliga survival is an important one for Götz who has a long connection with the club. He is now in his sixth season with Hamburg, dating back to when he was 15 after his mother made the decision to move the family from Pirmasens. Like most top prospects, Götz made steady progress through the club’s youth system. His current contract is set to expire this summer. His Bundesliga debut came on October 19 in Hamburg’s 1-1 draw with Hoffenhiem when he replaced an injured Dennis Diekmeier in the 30th minute. "It’s a good feeling. I have given my best," Götz said after the game. "I had bad luck with injuries last season. Now it is a small start for me. I'll take it all and will continue to do my best." Fellow Hamburg defender Maatthias Ostrzolek was also quick to praise Götz following his debut, noting that Götz had been building toward this moment. "Ashton was immediately [helpful] after coming off the bench there,” Ostrzolek said. “But he has hinted already in training that he can compete in the Bundesliga.” When asked whether he expected his Bundesliga debut to come this season, the shy and reserved Götz said, “No not really. But I hoped so. I was very excited and surprised as well.” One of Götz' Bundesliga highlights came against Werder Bremen on November 23rd, when he used his remarkable throw-in ability to send a ball more than 30 yards to assist on Artoms Rudnevs’ goal in the 84th minute (at 1:54 of the video below). The goal gave Hamburg a 1-0 lead in match it would win 2-0. Last month, Hamburg head coach Josef Zinnbauer noted that while Götz is still one of the club’s U-23/reserve team players, there are still signs that Götz can make the breakthrough on a full-time basis. "Ashton is a step further,” Zinnbauer said. “He is closer to the professional team than with the U23 squad.” The coming weeks and months will certainly be full of challenges for Götz as Hamburg's injured starters return to health and reclaim their roles. Götz will also have to overcome obstacles if he tries to obtain a U.S. passport and make himself available to the U.S. national team. One thing is clear, however: Götz is another German-American player who U.S. soccer fans, and Jurgen Klinsmann, should keep an eye on. Brian Sciaretta is an American Soccer Now columnist and an ASN 100 panelist. Follow him on Twitter.
December 17, 2014
December 17, 2014