Skip to content

Hey guys, chill the heck out: Brad Guzan has got this

Mar 10, 2013, 8:30 AM EST

Newcastle United v Aston Villa - Premier League Getty Images

News of Tim Howard’s back injury, unfortunate though it is for the longtime U.S. No. 1, should be nothing more than a little fender dent on the U.S. bus toward Brazil.

Brad Guzan will do fine.

The Aston Villa man has shown again and again this year that he can stand the test. Just because Villa is not competing for top spots in England – not ever threatening to sniff top-table glory this season – doesn’t mean there isn’t pressure aplenty at the Birmingham ground. In fact, the pressure around Villa Park is immense. Countless players and managers have spelled it out for me over the years: there is no pressure like the weight of a relegation fight.

And yet, Guzan delivers one outstanding performance after another, with no signs of slippage, no signs of cracked confidence due to Villa’s losing or to a goals against ledger that teeters somewhere between “brutal” and “unspeakable.” He was a game-changer once again Saturday as Villa prevailed in a huge “six-pointer” over Reading.

(MORE: Crucial win sees Aston Villa move out of drop zone) 

Further, Guzan’s international experience in the U.S. shirt may shade toward the limited side, but it’s hardly down at zero.

Guzan, 28, has appeared in five World Cup qualifiers (a 3-1-1 mark). In most of his matches the United States already had sufficient qualifier points in pocket, or they were matches where Bob Bradley’s team would win comfortably.

But there one was a biggie as the United States neared its ticket punch for World Cup 2010, although it was anything but across the finish line.

That was in 2009, during a contest in El Salvador. (And we all know how these Central American contests can prove uncomfortably tricky.) Tim Howard was serving a one-game suspension, so it was Guzan between the posts that night during a 2-2 draw at the Cuscatlán Stadium, San Salvador.

So, nothing that will happen in Denver on March 22 will faze the Illinois born-and-bred Guzan. Plus, there’s this:

The United States needs three points from these two matches (against Costa Rica in suburban Denver, then four nights later at Mexico.) The pressure will be on that match in Denver; the United States must emerge from DSG Park with a “W” and nothing else. From there?

If we’re honest, no one expects Jurgen Klinsmann’s side to win in Mexico – never mind that historic win in a friendly eight months ago. If they drag out a point out of Azteca Stadium, well, wonderful! If they manage to sneak away with a win, bust out the bubbly for three “bonus” points earned en route to Rio! But no one expects it.

But if the United States can carry the Denver night and scoop up all three points against Costa Rica in potentially chilly Colorado, you can stamp “Mission Accomplished” on this so called FIFA World Cup qualifier “double date.”

The United States, rebuilt back line and all, backstopped ably by Guzan, should be plenty to handle that task.

Latest Posts
  1. Europa League last 16 draw: Everton head to Ukraine; Spanish, Italian clubs clash

    Feb 27, 2015, 10:00 AM EST

    The Toffees get a tricky test in Kiev, while Italy dominates the last 16 with five clubs.

  2. Jack Wilshere undergoes latest surgery, as Arsenal return is delayed

    Feb 27, 2015, 9:20 AM EST

    Wilshere AP

    Gunners midfielder goes under the knife once again.

  3. Report: Chelsea join Manchester United in chase for Nathaniel Clyne

    Feb 27, 2015, 7:37 AM EST

    Queens Park Rangers v Southampton - Premier League Getty Images

    Will Clyne stay at Saints or move to one of the big boys?

  4. Toronto FC unveil new primary jersey for 2015 MLS season

    Feb 26, 2015, 11:37 PM EST

    Photo credit: MLSsoccer.com Photo credit: MLSsoccer.com

    It’s red — lots of red — and “All For One.” Do you dig it?

  5. Ahead of Capital One Cup final, Thibaut Courtois admits he’s never been in a PK shootout

    Feb 26, 2015, 11:10 PM EST

    Thibaut Courtois, Chelsea FC Getty Images

    Petr Cech has been in plenty of PK shootouts for Chelsea, but Courtois has never done it.

  6. CONCACAF Champions League: D.C. United battered by Alajualense, 5-2

    Feb 26, 2015, 10:32 PM EST

    Andrew Dykstra, D.C. United Andrew Dykstra, D.C. United

    *sigh* Another MLS team gets hammered in CCL, and we’re (probably) down to one last hope.

  7. Keller, Hejduk, Conrad headline 13 new eligibles for National Soccer HOF

    Feb 26, 2015, 8:15 PM EST

    Kasey Keller & Frankie Hejduk, USMNT Kasey Keller & Frankie Hejduk, USMNT

    It’s a who’s-who of USMNT, USWNT and MLS stars who are now eligible for the U.S. Soccer HOF.

  8. World War II bomb found, defused near Borussia Dortmund stadium

    Feb 26, 2015, 6:51 PM EST

    Signal Iduna Park, Borussia Dortmund Getty Images

    A 550-pound British bomb was found near Dortmund’s stadium on Thursday. That’s a little bit crazy.

  9. Chelsea signs five-year, $300-million Yokohama jersey sponsorship deal

    Feb 26, 2015, 6:13 PM EST

    Juan Cuadrado, Chelsea FC Juan Cuadrado, Chelsea FC

    Five years, $300 million — the going rate for prime real estate on a top PL team’s jersey.

  10. Europa League roundup: Tottenham, Liverpool out; Everton, La Liga sides advance

    Feb 26, 2015, 5:05 PM EST

    Romelu Lukaku, Everton FC Getty Images

    The Premier League’s nightmare week in European competition continued on Thursday.

  11. Besiktas 1-0 (1-1) Liverpool: Arslan makes, Lovren misses final PK as Reds go out of Europe

    Feb 26, 2015, 3:44 PM EST

    Atiba Hutchinson, Joe Allen AP

    It took kicks to settle the UEFA Europa League tie between Besiktas and Liverpool after both clubs won 1-0 home legs.

  12. Fiorentina ousts Tottenham from the Europa League with 2-0 win at the Stadio Artemio Franchi

    Feb 26, 2015, 2:59 PM EST

    FBL-EUR-C3-TOTTENHAM-FIORENTINA Getty Images

    The shots may’ve been even, but Spurs had 2/3 possession for much of the night.

  13. Scottish teen star gets in trouble for throwing muffins at McDonald’s

    Feb 26, 2015, 2:36 PM EST

    Hearts v Hibs - Scottish Championship Getty Images

    Cummings’ manager is backing him up, too, and the Scotland U-19 forward has 11 goals in 23 matches for Hibs this season.

  14. Strike season? Real Salt Lake owner calls free agency “go nowhere conversation”

    Feb 26, 2015, 1:46 PM EST

    Chivas USA v Real Salt Lake Getty Images

    If you believe the words from Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen on local radio last night, you probably want to prepare for a work stoppage in MLS.

  15. Serbian player threatened at gunpoint after missing late penalty

    Feb 26, 2015, 12:42 PM EST

    http://www.novosti.rs/ http://www.novosti.rs/

    It had to be a terrifying incident for the team, let alone the player.

  16. Pontius, DC United represent lone U.S. team left in CONCACAF Champions League

    Feb 26, 2015, 11:50 AM EST

    DC United v Real Salt Lake - 2013 U.S. Open Cup Final Getty Images

    Kickoff is at 8pm ET, with the return leg in DC on Wednesday.

  17. Southampton’s Koeman calls winter World Cup wrong, quips “Maybe I’ll be English manager”

    Feb 26, 2015, 11:05 AM EST

    Koeman AP

    Koeman, like many of us, thinks it’s a little wild to keep talking about 2022 in 2015.

  18. Cancer-battler Jonas Gutierrez set to return to Newcastle United side this weekend

    Feb 26, 2015, 10:16 AM EST

    chroniclelive.co.uk chroniclelive.co.uk

    Gone for now is the trademark ponytail due to the cancer battle, but Jonas’ spirit has been and will be a big boost for the Magpies.

  19. Sponsor-altered Liverpool crest alienates some Reds fans; Apology issued

    Feb 26, 2015, 9:25 AM EST

    LiverpoolLogo

    Dunkin’ Donuts has issued an apology after their doctoring of the Liverpool logo offended some fans.