After learning that Brad Guzan is open to a move back to his homeland, as reported by Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl, it's likely that Aston Villa will have the opportunity to clear his considerable salary from the wage bill. No, there won't be a large transfer fee for the American goalkeeper who lost his starting position to Mark Bunn at times during the past campaign, but as James Rushton said on Sunday, the club should jump at any offer that comes in.
Guzan made the jump across the pond in 2008, making the switch from now-defunct Chivas USA to Aston Villa. He played college soccer at the University of South Carolina before being drafted second overall in the 2005 MLS SuperDraft. He won Goalkeeper of the Year for the 2007 MLS season.
So, despite the dip in form lately while wearing a Villa shirt (ok but honestly who hasn't experienced one?), there may still be some talent in Guzan's 31-year-old body. Jürgen Klinsmann, the often under-fire but still current coach of the US Men's National Team, named Guzan the starting goalkeeper for this summer's Copa América Centenario, picking him over Tim Howard.
I bring up Tim Howard because they are very similar players. Other than both being bald Americans whose best Premier League days are behind them, they have made considerable appearances between the sticks for the USMNT. And while Howard is a bigger name -- still riding the wave of glory brought upon by setting the World Cup record for most saves in a match (15) in that heroic performance against Belgium at Brazil 2014 -- they should earn relatively similar amounts in MLS, America's top flight league.
Now Guzan hasn't officially moved to MLS yet, but Tim Howard has. And Howard is being paid
handsomely obscenely, making more money this season than all starting MLS goalkeepers made last season COMBINED. And even though Guzan (43) has far less caps for the national team than Howard (108), and probably wouldn't command as obnoxious of a salary, he still would be expensive, meaning he would have to be a Designated Player for an MLS side to afford him.
If the term 'Designated Player' is new or strange to you, that's fine. MLS is full of quirky rules that have changed as the league has evolved. Currently, MLS teams are allowed three Designated Players, or players whose salaries don't count against the league-mandated salary cap, or maximum wage bill. This is how David Beckham was able to be paid $6.5 million a year, while the league-minimum salary was $12,900. The poverty line in the United States for single individuals in 2007 was just over $10,000.
Long story short, Guzan would have to find a team that has an open DP spot. We can look at the Designated Player List from MLS Press Box, and while it hasn't been updated since the 28th of February, it can still provide a point of reference for where the soon-to-be-former Aston Villa netminder may wind up.
The Chicago Fire seem like a certain destination for the Guzan, a Chicago native, but they already have three Designated Players. However, the first MLS transfer window has passed, meaning the players would have to transfer to a non-MLS side in order for Guzan to join. Or, they could use something introduced this year called Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) to pay one of their current Designated Players at his current salary and remove said player from that desirable DP spot.
Having traded forward Kei Kamara, the Columbus Crew have just one DP on the books. The Crew currently are second-bottom in the Eastern Conference, but last year's MLS Cup runners-up may be interested in making a move that could get them back into contention this season despite a slow start.
A third team that's currently among the worst in the league, the Houston Dynamo, also have a spot available. It's not just the bad teams that have DP slots open, as surprise package Philadelphia Union, currently leading in the East, have just one on the books. It's unlikely they would be interested in burning a Designated Player spot on a goalkeeper, with the troubles they've had from doing so in the past.
Those are just a few teams Brad Guzan could wind up at, if he decides to move back to America. Others could make moves to acquire him, or he could go somewhere else, or even stay at Aston Villa!
Do you have a preferred MLS team that you'd like to see him join? Are you just happy to see Guzan leaving Villa? Let us know in the comments!