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In Good Hands: Brad Guzan

“We have one thousand percent faith in Brad Guzan,” said Klinsmann. “We're not worried about that situation at all.”

It’s often the fate of goalkeepers that they have to wait their turn behind an established starter. What winds up being the measure of the man is what he does with the opportunity once he gets it. And in the case of Guzan, he has clearly shown his ability to rise to the occasion for club and country. While he has dutifully served as understudy for Howard, the 28-year-old from Homer Glen, Ill., has seen his share of important action guarding the net for the United States, starting with his performance in World Cup qualifying.

Guzan holds a 3-1-1 record from five matches, including three shutouts. After back-to-back wins to get past Barbados in the Second Round, he kept a clean sheet at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park when the U.S. blanked Guatemala 2-0 on Nov. 19, 2008. Moving to the Final Round, he stood in for a suspended Howard in the cauldron of San Salvador and came away with an important point on the road.

He also had a hand in the USA’s deepest run in a FIFA Tournament, one that remains in the record books. Needing a 3-0 win against Egypt in the third group game of the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, Guzan stood tall as the U.S. got the precise result it needed, which led to the historic 2-0 victory against No. 1-ranked Spain in the semifinal.

In recognition of his leadership qualities, Guzan served as team captain when the U.S. defeated South Africa 1-0 in the 2010 Nelson Mandela Challenge Cup in Johannesburg. He had the honor of leading the team in its meeting with President Mandela.

That leadership has been on display all season long at Aston Villa, where Guzan earned the starting role after patiently waiting behind Brad Friedel and Shay Given. It’s hard to imagine that in a season where a club fights against relegation that the goalkeeper could be the team MVP, but if Villa stays in the Premier League next year it will be largely thanks to the efforts of Guzan, who time and again has made critical saves while marshaling a young back line that often has an average age in the low 20s.

“Brad has been exceptional,” said Villa boss Paul Lambert. “I would not swap him for anyone. He has been colossal for this club.”

Colossal for Aston Villa, and huge for the United States when given the opportunity. As usual, it appears the U.S. net is once again in good hands.

Brad Guzan Fact File
Career caps: 20
World Cup Qualifying caps: 5
Record in WCQ: 3-1-1
Shutouts in WCQ: 3

World Cup qualifiers
Date Opponent Result Venue
June 15, 2008 Barbados 8-0 W The Home Depot Center – Carson, Calif.
June 22, 2008 Barbados 1-0 W Kensington Oval - Bridgetown, Barbados
Oct. 15, 2008 Trinidad & Tobago 1-2 L Port of Spain, Trinidad
Nov. 19, 2008 Guatemala 2-0 W Dick’s Sporting Goods Park – Commerce City, Colo.
March 28, 2009 El Salvador 2-2 T Estadio Cuscatlan – San Salvador, El Salvador