Ethan Horvath Stands Tall in MNT Debut vs. Cuba

With competition for roster spots in World Cup Qualifying serving as the key theme for these October friendlies, the opportunity for young goalkeepers to make an impression has been made all the more significant with the absence of veterans Brad Guzan and Tim Howard.

Of the three called in, Ethan Horvath got the first crack and took full advantage, earning his first MNT cap and clean sheet in Friday’s 2-0 friendly win against Cuba. The former U-23 goalkeeper made three saves and did well to control his penalty area on a memorable day in Havana.

“Obviously it was a pretty historic match today, playing Cuba and coming down here,” Horvath said post-game. “It was amazing getting my first cap. To be honest, I didn’t think I was going to have to do too much today, but in the end I did. I’m happy that I did everything to the best of my ability and I think I can leave this trip with my head held high.”

Youngest Debuts for MNT Goalkeepers (Modern Era)

Tony Meola

0-1 L vs. Ecuador; June 7, 1988

19 years, 105 days

Kasey Keller

1-1 D vs. Colombia; Feb. 4, 1990

20 years, 67 days

Zach Thornton

3-0 W at Jamaica; Nov. 22, 1994

21 years, 43 days

Bill Hamid

1-0 W vs. Venezuela; Jan. 21, 2012

21 years, 57 days

Brad Friedel

2-0 W at Canada; Sept. 3, 1992

21 years, 108 days

Ethan Horvath

2-0 W at Cuba; Oct. 7, 2016

21 years, 120 days

At 21 years, 120 days, Horvath became the second youngest goalkeeper to debut for the MNT since 1994, with only Bill Hamid beating him by about 63 days. He’s also the sixth youngest goalkeeper to debut for the U.S. since 1988, even beating current top choices Guzan and Howard.

Horvath’s initial appearance for the MNT comes on the heels of taking part in the last two U.S. camps, where he backed up Guzan and Howard at this summer’s Copa America Centenario and September’s World Cup Qualifying matches. The Molde goalkeeper indicated that being part of those two camps helped familiarize him with the MNT back line, making for an easier transition between the U-23 and senior squads during the past few months.

Following the Cuba match, Horvath departed camp to return to Molde, allowing the opportunity for William Yarbrough, David Bingham or new addition Bill Hamid to get time in Tuesday’s match against New Zealand. The Norwegian club currently sits in fourth place in the Tippeligaen, one point out of a UEFA Europa League place next season. He returns to Scandinavia with hopes of helping his club reach European football next season, all while trying to ensure he’s part of the U.S. squad that convenes for the start of final round World Cup Qualifying next month.

“This is my third camp being called in, and playing in this game was a big positive in my favor. Doing as well as I did is very positive too,” he said. “You can’t take anything for granted though. After this game I go back to my club Molde, and we have four games left. I just do what I can do there, play as well as I can and hopefully I get called into the next games against Mexico and Costa Rica.”