United States goalkeeper Brad Guzan is hoping to continue his international career and help the Americans return to the Word Cup stage.
Guzan is one of several U.S. veterans who haven’t played for the men’s national team since last October, when a loss at tiny Trinidad and Tobago cost them a trip to the recently concluded World Cup in Russia.
The Atlanta United man, who served as Tim Howard’s understudy at the 2010 and 2014 tournaments, would have been the favorite to start for the U.S. this summer had the Yanks qualified. But at 33, it’s possible that Guzan will remain in the mix for the No. 1 job all the way to Qatar 2022, which will kick off two months after his 38th birthday.
“I’m still young for a goalkeeper,” Guzan said in an interview with Yahoo Sports. “I still feel I have something left to give. I still feel that I can contribute to the group and be a part of the group going forward.”
The chance to add to his 58 caps could come soon. The U.S. will meet Brazil and Mexico in stateside friendlies in September, and will close out the year with November exhibitions in Europe against England and Italy. A pair of October matches are also in the works.
Interim coach Dave Sarachan is expected to remain in charge of the USMNT though at least the first set of games. And Sarachan has been in recent contact with Illinois native Guzan, who spent almost a decade in the English Premier League before returning to the U.S. last year.
“I still speak to Dave. I still speak to [goalkeeper coach] Matt Reis regularly. They’re obviously checking in on me,” said Guzan, who has backstopped Atlanta to the best record in MLS this season. “They still see me being part of it at some stage.”
A young U.S. squad has posted a record of 2W-1L-2D so far in 2018, with a 1-1 draw at eventual World Cup champ France on the eve of the event the obvious highlight. Columbus Crew keeper Zack Steffen, 23, was spectacular against Les Bleus in just his third appearance for the U.S.
“These guys are talented players,” Guzan said of the next generation of U.S. players. “It’s important now that they go back with their club teams around the world and get meaningful minutes in big games against big teams and players, because ultimately that’s going to help them in big matches with the national team.”
MLS’s congested late-season schedule makes it unlikely that Steffen, 23, will play in all of the Americans’ remaining games this year. And besides Steffen, there’s an alarming lack of depth at a position that historically has been the country’s strongest. That won’t change before new national team general manager Earnie Stewart names a permanent U.S. coach, an appointment that’s expected by the end of 2018. All of that figures to keep Guzan in contention for a roster spot, if not the starting job, for the foreseeable future.
“At certain times, the young guys are going to need experienced players to pull them along,” Guzan said. “You can’t just chuck them into the deep end. Playing in a friendly is different from playing in El Salvador or Guatemala in a World Cup qualifier.
“We all know what qualifying in CONCACAF is about,” he continued. “You need experience. You can’t just go completely the other way. You need to have some experience, whether that’s myself or other players who have been around, have played in big games and who know what it takes to win.”
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