Just how long has it been since Brad Guzan has been in camp? He hasn’t seen roommate and Chicago youth soccer rival Michael Bradley in almost a year, during which each has witnessed the birth of a child into their family. Now, while it’s been nearly seven months since said Brad Guzan stepped on a field for a National Team training camp, he enters this camp with a new distinction: the USA’s declared starting goalkeeper.
“He is our number one,” said U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann at the start of this camp. “We are excited to have him back in our group. He will be the starter in the Gold Cup, so it’s really important for him to pick up games with us.”
While the distinction is certainly welcome, Guzan says it doesn’t alter the approach he has brought his entire career.
“It’s great to have the backing of the manager, but it doesn’t change your mind-set at all. A goalkeeper always has to have the mentality to be prepared to play in every game and every training session. It’s part of the nature of the position.”
Guzan’s career arc has been a history in patience leading to achievement. Voted the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year in 2007, then he transferred to Aston Villa and bided his time while quietly improving his craft. Earning the top job, his numerous man of the match performances during the 2012-13 campaign led to the award of Aston Villa Player of the Year.
That timeline mimics the path of his National Team career. Becoming a regular on the squad list in 2007, he delivered convincing performances when called upon. The shutout against Egypt with Guzan between the posts in the third group game of the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup positioned the U.S. to achieve one of its most significant victories, the 2-0 win against then No. 1-ranked Spain. In World Cup qualifying he was equally dependable, going 3-1-1 during the campaign towards South Africa. Four years later he posted back-to-back shutouts against Costa Rica in the Snowclasico in Denver followed by the historic 0-0 draw against in Mexico in front of more than 100,000 fans at Estadio Azteca, where he earned Budweiser Man of the Match honors.
With games against two of the top teams in the world set against the backdrop of the Gold Cup, the man his teammates affectionately call “polar bear” maintains the calm but determined demeanor that has delivered him to this point in his career. He knows what’s at stake.
“We want to get results in these games of course, but you also have to take each one as an opportunity to grow as a group. The Gold Cup is a chance for us to make a statement, and everyone will be pulling together in that direction.”