Two proven veterans made the decision about who will start at goalkeeper in this summer’s Copa America Centenario a difficult one for United States head coach Jurgen Klinsmann.
He announced this weekend the job belongs to Brad Guzan, thanks in large part to his recent success with the U.S. Guzan gave up just one goal in two World Cup Qualifying wins. He also has loads of experience in official competitions, going 10-4-4 in tournaments that include World Cup Qualifying, the FIFA Confederations Cup, CONCACAF Gold Cup and Copa America.
“The decision went to him because we believe he will continue to be excellent the way he’s done the last two years for the National Team,” Klinsmann said.
Guzan took over the top spot following the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, when standout goalkeeper Tim Howard chose to step away from international soccer for a year. He returned and split time with Guzan during Qualifying, but Klinsmann said Guzan’s more regular play at the club level helped give him an edge.
The 2007 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year with Chivas USA owns 144 appearances for Aston Villa, plus another 16 with Hull City while on loan in 2011. His experiences for club and country have him both poised and eager for the opportunity ahead.
“To be named No. 1, it’s obviously a huge honor,” Guzan said. “But with that comes a lot of responsibility. It comes with putting together solid performances. It comes with helping the guys in front of me and doing everything we can to try to get results to make sure that we’re successful this summer.”
Brad Guzan (foreground) and Tim Howard have long held a healthy competition for the USA's starting goalkeeper position.
His past efforts earned Guzan the full support of his coaches and teammates, including Howard. Klinsmann said the star of the 2014 World Cup for the U.S. fully understands why he’ll be serving an important backup role this summer.
“He totally supports that decision,” Klinsmann said. “We can only play one goalkeeper and for me it’s just really, really important to have Tim on board.”
The Copa America Centenario should offer some significant tests for Guzan, who started in the team’s friendly against Puerto Rico on Sunday before giving way to Howard for the second half of the 3-1 win. Klinsmann noted this summer’s competition would provide a unique experience, different from a World Cup or European Championship.It begins June 3 against Colombia in Santa Clara, Calif., followed by matches against Costa Rica in Chicago on June 7 and Paraguay on June 11 in Philadelphia.