In news that will surprise no one at all, Brad Guzan has been called up for the USMNT qualifiers against Costa Rica and Mexico. With Tim Howard unavailable due to injury, Guzan is the heavy favorite to beat out Nick Rimando of Real Salt Lake--arguably the best keeper in MLS--for the starting spot, with Sean Johnson of the Chicago Fire in the mix as well. Guzan has three shutouts in five games with the USMNT.
After news broke that Howard would miss these matches, Aston Villa fans were treated to a host of opinions from pundits and journalists about who would take the Everton man's place between the sticks. Amazingly enough, many called for the return of Brad Friedel to U.S. national duty. Now, I'll probably always have a soft spot for Brad 1.0, but to suggest that he deserves the nod over Guzan is just ridiculous.
Anyone who has had to pay attention to Villa this season knows that Guzan has been immense for the Villa. Just looking at the last match, it's easy to see that QPR could have had three or four goals going into the second half if it hadn't been for the keeper. And considering the quality of the U.S. backline, it's essential for the side to have someone who's used to not being able to count on his defenders. That's a quality Guzan has in spades.
The US faces Costa Rica on March 22nd in Denver, CO and makes the daunting trek to Estadio Azteca to face bitter rivals Mexico on March 25th. Villa's next game is against Liverpool on March 31st, making it unlikely Guzan will miss any games with the club. This will be a real chance for Guzan to prove his worth to Klinsmann, as he'll be playing behind a back line heavy on young MLS players and light on international experience. If Guzan can put in the kind of performance he's shown himself capable of this season, the USMNT might have themselves a bit of a ‘keeper conundrum on its hands.
For more on the USMNT roster, check out Stars and Stripes FC.