U.S. Men’s National Team goalkeeper Brad Guzan earned the first of his 19 caps in 2006, but it’s been more than a year since his last appearance in a U.S. shirt. The Aston Villa ‘keeper, who had gone on loan last year to Championship side Hull City, started a string of games since December, posting wins against Chelsea and Bolton Wanderers and a clean sheet against Stoke City. Guzan’s recent starts got the attention of U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who called the Illinois native into his first camp since November 2010. ussoccer.com caught up with the imposing net-minder to see how he’s enjoying being back in with the MNT.
ussoccer.com: You’re back in the squad for the first time since Jurgen Klinsmann became head coach. It must be a nice feeling to get back in …
Brad Guzan: “Yeah, any time you get to be back with the National Team it’s good. For me, having that time away and missing what it’s about – representing your country and missing the guys – wasn’t easy, so it’s nice to be back in camp. It’s an important few days, not only to see the guys, but to speak to Jurgen, speak to Chris Woods, the goalkeeping coach, and just kind of get a feel for the vibe in camp and kind of see what they’re expecting from the players in this next cycle of games and hopefully qualification.”
ussoccer.com: You finally got a good run of games for Aston Villa which led to the call-up. Does that give you confidence knowing that if you’re playing and doing well that you’re still on the radar?
BG: “When Jurgen first came on board, he made it clear that he wanted guys to be playing. As a player you have to respect that because games are what are going to make players better. You can train and train and you try to keep yourself fit obviously and keep sharp, but you can’t really recreate that in training. To be able to play games and have that run of games was really important for me. And at the end of it, being called back into the National Team was kind of like the cherry on top. For me, it was very important not only in that sense, but because in my last few years at Villa, I’ve only really played Cup games and haven’t really gotten a run of games. So to have eight, nine games in a row was really good.”
ussoccer.com: The last time you were in with the National Team was Nov. 17, 2010, when the U.S. won 1-0 against South Africa in the Nelson Mandela Challenge. What are your memories of that game?
BG: “It was obviously really good. South Africa, where the World Cup was and the Confederations Cup, I think that country holds a special place in a lot of guys’ hearts from what the last four years were about. For me to go back there and then captain the team and obviously get a good result, it was an exciting time. That’s behind me, and I’m now excited to be a part of this new cycle with the new coach and coaching staff and look forward to good things ahead.”
ussoccer.com: One the great parts about this group is the banter and the great chemistry amongst the guys. You’ve always been right in the mix of that, so you must be happy to jump back in…
BG: “It’s just good to see the guys, seeing Carlos [Bocanegra] and Stevie [Cherundolo] today. I saw Timmy [Howard] at the airport and obviously traveled with him from London. The banter that kind of flies around when you’re in camp and the laughs and the good times you have are great, but at the same time knowing you’re here for a reason and to do a job and not only do a job, but represent your country to the highest ability and the highest standard. It’s good all around.”
ussoccer.com: How long did it take for the banter to start flying?
BG: “I’m pretty sure it was as soon as I walked through the lounge and saw Timmy as we waited to board our flight to leave London. It’s good.”
ussoccer.com: This is the first game against Italy since the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup. What do you look for out of this game?
BG: “I’m sure they’ll have some new faces and we’ll obviously have some new faces. I think it’s going to be a very good game in the sense of a game that’s really going to test us. They’re a big team, a very good team, and I think it will be good to go out there and get a gauge of where the U.S. team is.”