World Cup Player Profile: Brad Guzan

Brad Guzan, well, sits on the bench as the United States took on Turkey in a pre-World Cup friendly. - Elsa

Jürgen Klinsmann is a lucky man. He's got a top goalkeeper in Brad Guzan to help solidify his team's chances at the back. Wait, what's that? Brad Guzan's his second-choice in net? Whatever, we'll still take a look at what the Illinois native can contribute if called on in Brazil.

If we were to have a discussion about the top five goalkeepers in the Premier League, odds are Brad Guzan's name would come up as being on our shortlist. Unfortunately for Brad—and American-based Villa fans hoping to see one of their own turn out for club and country—the US has another goalkeeper on that list. That's Tim Howard who, very admittedly, is coming off of a great season with Everton.

It's probably the only position in football where the United States has a surplus. Brad Guzan would start for most countries at the World Cup and Nick Rimando might be the most underrated player on Klinsmann's 23-man roster. Unfortunately for Guzan, it looks to be a World Cup full of appearances on the bench—wonder if it talks?—but one that forces him to be ready at any instant to play the role of Nigel Spink for the United States.

United States
Goalkeeper
Caps: 25, Goals: 0
Group G

Brad Guzan

Service for the United States: Guzan's made 25 appearances for the United States over the last eight years, having made his first international appearance in 2006. He first appeared in a World Cup Qualifier in an 8-0 victory over Barbados in 2008 and has consistently been the No. 2 goalkeeper for the United States since Kasey Keller's international retirement on the heels of the disappointing 2006 World Cup campaign.

And while Guzan might be the second choice for the United States, it doesn't mean he hasn't proven himself on the international level. He started in the 2009 Confederations Cup victory over Egypt for the United States and kept consecutive clean sheets in the "Snow Bowl" against Costa Rica and at the Azteca against Mexico during the "Hexagonal" qualifying round in Howard's absence. He appeared for his third time this qualifying cycle in the final match, a 3-2 victory in Panama City after the Americans had secured their spot.

What makes him interesting: Brad Guzan has pretty much been the reason Aston Villa are still a Premier League side. Despite conceding 130 goals over the past two seasons, Guzan's widely regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the league. I mean, hell, he got praised for his performance in that 8-0 defeat to Chelsea in December 2012.

Of course, he's likely to not see the pitch in Brazil but if he does, expect him to be playing behind a group of defenders that's, well, not really better than what he plays behind at Villa. Guzan's capable of pulling off the amazing save, controls his area well, and rarely gets beaten to a ball.

Perhaps most interesting about Guzan is the thought that in a month, he'll be the starting goalkeeper for the United States. Tim Howard is 35 years old and would be 39 when the next World Cup comes around in 2018; many are treating this as if it's Howard's last go around at the World Cup. On the contrary, Guzan is 29 years old (like Villa's other two World Cup-bound players) and would be the natural choice to succeed the American goalkeeper. We'll have to see if Howard walks away from international football—or perhaps opts to stay through the special version of Copa America in 2016—but American supporters should start taking an increased look at Guzan.

What to expect in Brazil: Of course, as we've already discussed, there's another American that's good at this goalkeeper thing. But if Tim Howard goes down due to injury or suspension, American and Aston Villa fans should expect Guzan to step into the team pretty seamlessly. Like Howard, Guzan can control his area and is a strong goalkeeper. Last year, American Villa supporters campaigned for Guzan to take over as the first-choice goalkeeper. If Howard goes down in Brazil, the rest of America might finally see how good the Illinois native is.

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