Your Keeper, My Keeper
Brad Guzan Shines in the Snow for the USMNT
The American goalkeeper filled in for Tim Howard and did it well, shutting down Costa Rica's attack in a blizzard. Jon Arnold talked to the man of the night and his teammate Omar Gonzalez.
BY Jon Arnold PostedDENVER—On a night where freezing temperatures and driving snow shook even the most heavily gloved hands, Brad Guzan’s were sure. The Aston Villa goalkeeper filled in admirably for normal starter Tim Howard, who was out of the match with a back injury. Guzan wasn’t tested much and had only one noticeable stretch where he was troubled by the Costa Rican attack in a 1-0 U.S. victory. Though he’s not the normal starter, the calm exuded from the back was palpable. With possession in demand because of the conditions, Guzan slowed things down several times, gesticulating to his team to be patient before putting the ball back into play. While the snow flurries and subsequent accumulation made moving the ball a tall task, seeing the yellow ball through the white backdrop was also tough, challenging Guzan and the back line. “I think he did exceptional with just being able to catch the ball in this snow, not being able to see it until the last second. I think he did really well,” said Omar Gonzalez, one of the center backs who played in front of him. There were times when the completion of the match seemed to be in doubt for those reasons, specifically when the match was stopped in the 55th minute. The Costa Rican keeper, Keylor Navas, struggled with the weather, looking unsettled at times. Navas conceded a goal in the 16th minute on a play that started when he booted a goal kick directly to an American player. After that goal, he made the puzzling decision to come off his line in the 42nd minute. The Levante man was bailed out by his defenders and the referee, who elected not to blow for a penalty despite a strong shout on one of the subsequent tackles. Guzan didn’t have the same difficulties. He spilled one cross in the 60th minute but collected it immediately. In the 54th minute he faced a nail-biting pair of corner kicks, one of which was cleared by Bradley and the other of which went untouched. The ball did end up in Guzan’s net in the 70th minute, but Joel Campbell’s pretty header was correctly whistled offside. In rough weather, a keeper often has to sacrifice his entire body to make sure there aren’t any issues. “In these conditions you try to get everything you can behind the ball to make sure you have a good barrier behind it,” Guzan said. “The guys in front of me did a good job of limiting their opportunities and the few chances they had I was able to deal with.” There weren’t too many concerns about the Stars and Stripes’ number two stepping into the mouth of goal, but if there were any lingering worries they’ll be alleviated by the 28-year-old’s performance in adverse conditions. Just four days after the clean sheet, he’ll be up against a different type of adverse atmosphere with the falling ice giving way to the Estadio Azteca’s unfriendly crowd and high altitude. It’s no worry for the backstop, though. “We know it’s going to be a difficult game going down there,” he said. “We’re looking forward to the challenge, the opportunity.” Getting three points against Costa Rica will “give us some confidence going down there,” he continued. As Guzan and the team showed Friday, there’s reason for fans to have some faith in the current team as well—even without some of the regular starters. Jon Arnold (@ArnoldcommaJon) is a writer based in Arizona and is ASN's CONCACAF correspondent.
March 23, 2013
March 23, 2013