BY PATRICK MacDONALD
Staff Writer, USMNT
Considering the must win situation that stands before the U.S. on March 22 in Denver against Costa Rica, fans of the National Team don’t want to hear any bad news that could hamper the squad’s chances.
Lo and behold, here comes news that first choice backstop Tim Howard has a back injury that will keep out of the Costa Rica and Mexico encounters.
Sound the panic alarm, right?
Maybe we need to relax just a little bit.
Brad Guzan is going to step in for Tim Howard and the man is hardly second choice. Some may question how the keeper of a team currently pitted in a relegation battle could possibly be able to replace the long time USMNT backstop.
Well for starters, the relegation battle is hardly the fault of Guzan himself. If anything, he’s the reason Aston Villa isn’t worse off.
Guzan is currently third in the Premiership with 105 saves. This stat goes to show how many shots this guy is facing behind an awful backline that has done the man no favors. By comparison, Tim Howard only has 70 saves. For even greater perspective, highly thought of keeper Joe Hart has a meager 49.
You’re not making saves unless you’re facing shots, and as we all know, statistics favor the shooter over the keeper in this sport. Considering the barrage Guzan has faced all season, it’s amazing that he hasn’t crumbled in shell-shock.
Guzan is also hardly a rookie at the international level, dressing for the U.S. 20 times. Five of those matches were World Cup Qualifiers in which Guzan posted a 3-1-1 mark. Also, many forget that during the U.S. miracle Confederations Cup run, Guzan was the keeper in the must win match against Egypt that set up the huge win against Spain.
Guzan is no scrub. And let’s be honest; Tim Howard isn’t as invincible as we pretend he is. If the U.S. loses in Denver, it likely won’t be because of Guzan anymore than it would likely be because of Tim Howard. Hell, if the U.S. backline plays as poorly as it did in Honduras, Guzan will be used to it considering his experience with Villa.
Then maybe he is exactly the man you want between the sticks.
Other USMNT Notes:
- The June 18th World Cup Qualifier will be held in Salt Lake giving the Rocky Mountain region two back to back qualifiers.
It’s a bit strange to see U.S. Soccer group two matches in the same area despite the rumors that a game was going to Rio Tinto all along. If one locks in Sporting Park and Crew Stadium for two out of the last three matches, then that leaves one match for the Northeast. The problem is all the rumors point to that match being held anywhere but here.
If the Northeast gets left out in the cold, then it should be a lesson for the often cynical Northeastern fanbases to not treat friendlies as if they’re beneath them. Only 8,823 showed up to watch the U.S. play Colombia in Philadelphia in 2010 and while 20,707 showed up to watch the U.S. play Ecuador at Red Bull Arena in 2011, it’d be hard to call the crowd “Pro U.S.” with a straight face. With U.S. Soccer souring on the idea of playing in football stadiums (New England) or crumbling ones (RFK), don’t expect the Northeast to be shown favor until they come out and prove they bleed Red, White, and Blue – no matter what the competition or who the opponent.