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Can Guzan Get the Job Done?


Brad Guzan has been anointed as Tim Howard’s backup for international play with the US National Team. But count me among the skeptics as to whether or not Guzan is really ready for this responsibility. With Howard suspended for the next US qualifier in El Salvador, we’ll learn a lot next month about the Aston Villa keeper.

Bob Bradley’s preference for Guzan is well know: having managed Guzan at Chivas USA for a season, he seems to have an unlimited faith in the keeper. But in Guzan’s limited US National Team action over the past year and a half he has made the sort of mistakes that Tim Howard, Kasey Keller, Tony Meola and Brad Friedel rarely if ever made while wearing a US shirt.

In October 2007, Guzan badly misjudged a Swiss breakaway, came out of the area and handled the ball illegally, drawing a yellow card and conceding a free kick in a dangerous location. The free kick was cleared and the US held on to a 1-0 victory.

In May 2008, Steven Gerrard scored an easy breakaway goal thanks to poor midfield possession play by Rico Clark and Michael Bradley. But on this goal, England’s second in a 2-0 win at Wembley, Guzan reacted late and seemed indecisive about where to position himself.

The next month in a World Cup qualifier in Bridgetown against Barbados Guzan made two errors: one was misjudging a cross which led to a goal that the referee nullified on a questionable offsides. Then later Guzan misjudged the ball flight as Barbados had a shot hit off the crossbar.

While Guzan is young and physically talented, through the years the US has had more than its fair share of keepers who never got serious national team looks. Think about Mike Amman before his terrible injury, or Kevin Hartman, Ian Feuer, Matt Reis, Tom Presthus Matt Jordan, Jonny Walker or even Nicky Rimando who probably got more training camp looks than the previous seven guys I have listed. Each hit their prime when the US had an amazingly deep goalkeeper pool.

Now with Brad Guzan as the number two I fear the best days of goalkeeping in the US are behind us. More and more foreign keepers are being signed in MLS (the early days of MLS found maybe 2-3 foreign keepers a season in the league) and the American keepers in Europe are standing out the way they once did.

All of this discussion could be immaterial however. Should Tim Howard limit his bookings and continue to be healthy the US will have one of the best keepers on the planet between the pipes in South Africa.

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  1. Phillip

    February 27, 2009 at 12:19 am

    SDM, personally, I wouldn’t blame Bob for going with Perkins. Robles hasn’t been called in before, and thrusting him into a situation as the backup in a WCQ isn’t the best idea. Perkins has been in camp with these guys, so at least they are fairly familiar with him.

    Robles will definitely be at the Gold Cup though.

  2. eplnfl

    February 26, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    Ok, homer disclaimer, but Guzan, from Homer Glenn, Illinois, just outside of Chicago has the talent to be on the big club. He needs much like baseball pitchers time to learn his position. Aston Villa made such a smart move by acquiring him and letting him watch one of the masters of the net for a year or two. Once he learns the ropes all will be well in the net for the Red, White, and Blue.

    By the way Reis does peak my interest and I would like to see him with the National Team on the pitch ahead of him and Busch in an emergency can do well I’m sure. Guzan is the future.

  3. SDM

    February 26, 2009 at 11:31 am

    You guys are probably right about Robles…..which means Bradley will call in Troy Perkins instead. Bradley only deals with people he knows. Now if Robles had played for the Fire or Chivas USA, he’d be a no-brainer.

  4. Andrew

    February 25, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    Guzan has tremendous potential. Aston Villa is betting on it. The more he plays in the EPL, the better he will get for the national team.

  5. Kartik

    February 25, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    I agree with Philip- Robles is playing really well right now. Maybe Busch or Reis is the other option. Troy Perkins played horribly this past weekend and I hope he is not the option.

  6. Phillip

    February 25, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    I forsee Luis Robles being called in as Guzan’s backup in this match.

    The kid is playing very well right now, and I don’t think there are any other keepers that will be in as much a groove as he will be at that point. Let’s bring him along for the trip.

  7. Rafa in LA

    February 25, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    The answer is no. He’s erratic and indecisive. I don’t think he’ll ever be close to the level of the typical American keeper.

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