Smith, McGowan join GCU

Gold Coast United's squad for the upcoming Hyundai A-League season is starting to take shape with the arrival of their two latest signings, young defender Dylan McGowan and American import Alex Smith.

Gold Coast United's squad for the upcoming Hyundai A-League season is starting to take shape with the arrival of their two latest signings, young defender Dylan McGowan and American import Alex Smith.

McGowan, 20, joins United on loan from Scottish Premier League club Hearts while 25-year-old striker Smith has his chance at a professional football renaissance after a failed stint in the MLS earlier in his career.

The duo has a task ahead of them with the departure of stopper Dino Djulbic and goal machine Shane Smeltz leaving gaping holes in coach Miron Bleiberg's squad - but their pedigree indicates they are prudent additions to the side.

Smith jumped on a plane bound for the Glitter Strip just hours after his last game for NSW Premier League side Sydney Olympic on Sunday, where he banged in goals for fun.

"I started the season playing defensive midfield but I played a game up forward, scored a hat-trick and it went on from there," he laughed.

Smith ended up with 11 goals in 13 appearances for Olympic but how the one-time US college football sensation ended up in Australia in the first place is an intriguing tale.

After a breakout year in 2004 with Southern Methodist University, Smith went on trial with English clubs Walsall and Shrewsbury Town but in doing so became classified as a professional player by the NCAA.

He was then forced to 'go pro or go home' and signed with FC Dallas - but that move quickly turned sour and he admits that he was far too young and never took his football seriously at that stage of his life.

Smith gave the game away and moved to Australia for a change of scenery, but once he started playing again his talents were plain as day and Bleiberg quickly snapped him up as a replacement for Smeltz after a red-hot start to the season.

"Those are some big shoes to fill but I'll try my best, see if I can score some goals and help the club out," Smith said.

Young Socceroo McGowan, who has the 2012 Olympic Games in London firmly in his sights, said his move to the Gold Coast came in the search for senior football.

"Hearts were saying I was a bit too young to establish myself in the first team," he said.

"I could have stayed there and gotten the odd appearance off the bench but it was better for my development to come out and get some more games up here."

But with United's first-choice XI far from set in stone, starting spots are up for grabs and United coach Miron Bleiberg said McGowan will have to earn his minutes.

Meanwhile, it looks increasingly unlikely that German midfielder Peter Perchtold will return to United for the new season.

Perchtold signed a guest deal with Gold Coast in January with an option for a further two years but discussions between the club and the former Bundesliga player are at a standstill.

"He finished his contract with us last season and we are talking to him about coming back to renew. At the moment we are in the middle of negotiations and if he's not here, it means that the negotiations are not going smoothly," Bleiberg said.

"If he rings tomorrow and comes it will be his spot. If he does not come it means we have another visa spot to fill. In that case, we have four months until our first game and we are in no hurry."