Brad Guzan vs. Nick Rimando; The Battle For Starting Goalkeeper
The 1-0 victory against the Czech Republic was the first match played by the USMNT after Tim Howard announced his hiatus from international soccer having gained 104 caps for his country. There’s no doubt that Howard leaves behind giant gloves to fill as he saved USMNT time and time again in his thirteen years with Team USA.
His World Cup record 16 saves against Belgium in the round of 16 was nothing short of spectacular and it was only fitting that his last game for the USMNT would be the game that nailed down his spot as a soccer legend.
Against the Czechs, Jurgen Klinsmann gave 45 minutes each to Brad Guzan and Nick Rimando to try and impress him. The former is expected to continue the proud tradition of bald number one goalkeepers following in the footsteps of Brad Friedel and Howard. However, Rimando’s performance in this friendly game certainly made no harm to his chances of featuring fir the USMNT in the future.
The Real Salt Lake’s goalkeeper’s main obstacle to usurping Guzan’s number 1 spot is his age as he turned 35 last June. Rimando is a solid goalkeeper who consistently puts in solid performances in the MLS and he produced a couple of brilliant saves against the Czechs helping to keep the clean sheet. However, it seems unlikely that he will add too many matches to his 14 caps.
On the other hand, Guzan has seen his stock rise significantly not only in America but in Europe. Bought in 2008 by Aston Villa, it was only a couple of seasons ago that he started featuring regularly for the Birmingham side under Paul Lambert. Interestingly, he had just been released from the club in June 2012 but Lambert decided to sign him up again putting the wheels in motion for the Illinois-born keeper to replace the ageing Shay Given.
With Guzan turning 30 on the 9th of September, now is his chance to make the number one spot his for the next 3 or 4 years. The match against Czech Republic was hardly the ideal audition as the Europeans hardly had a sniff at goal in the first half when Guzan was in goal.
All in all, Rimando had the better of the audition against the Czechs but I don’t see anyone in front of Brad Guzan in the pecking order for Klinsmann.
He deserves his chance after his time fighting for a starting place in England.