Guzan pushes struggles aside, puts focus on starting for US
DALLAS (AP) Brad Guzan wants to put a rough Premier League season behind him and take a break from uncertainty over his club future.
U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann gave the Aston Villa goalkeeper plenty to think about in the next month, picking him to play in the Copa America over Tim Howard, the starter during the past two World Cups.
“My sole focus is on the summer, on this team, helping this team,” Guzan said Tuesday, a day before a match against Ecuador in the second of three exhibitions ahead of the tournament. “For me, I’ve been looking forward to this. It should be a good summer.”
Aston Villa’s top goalkeeper since September 2012, Guzan lost his starting job to Mark Bunn in January, regained it in late March, then lost it again in late April as the Villans headed toward a last-place finish and relegation to the League Championship. He figures to transfer to another Premier League club or return to Major League Soccer, where he played for Chivas USA from 2005-08.
After 13 years in England, including 10 with Everton, Howard is coming back to MLS with Colorado in July. He lost his starting job on the Toffees to Joel Robles in late January, although he did return to start the club’s last two home games.
Guzan started in last summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, where the U.S. was knocked out by Jamaica in the semifinals. When Howard returned from his one-year national team sabbatical, the two rotated.
While Klinsmann picked 20-year-old Ethan Horvath of Norway’s Molde as his third keeper, only Guzan and Howard were under consideration to start in the Copa America, where the U.S. opens against Colombia on June 3 at Santa Clara, California.
“You go through the season. You go through the last two years,” Klinsmann said. “At the end of the day you’ve got to make a decision. And we feel very good about it.”
Howard has not spoken with reporters since Klinsmann announced his decisions Saturday.
Guzan played for an Aston Villa team that gave up a league-high 76 goals and won just three times in 38 games, resulting in what will be its first season in the second tier since 1987-88.
“I feel ready,” he said. “Obviously it’s been a frustrating year, but at the same time, I’ve always been confident in myself, confident to help the team.”
Guzan and Howard split World Cup qualifiers against Guatemala in March, with Howard appearing in the road loss and Guzan in the home win. Guzan started Sunday’s 3-1 exhibition win at Puerto Rico, and Howard played the second half.
Several of the position players were still with their MLS teams and European clubs for that match, but nearly the full Copa roster will be available against Ecuador and Saturday’s match against Bolivia at Kansas City, Kansas.
“That’s the coach’s job, to make tough decisions and pick what he thinks is going to be best for the team,” forward Clint Dempsey said. “We all have to pull together and try to win games and to make sure that we’re successful. We have to fight for each other.”
Captain Michael Bradley chuckled when asked what Guzan brought, saying he jokes with them that he doesn’t “pretend to be the best judge of goalkeepers.”
“When we need them in big moments, are they able to produce a save that another guy wouldn’t?” Bradley asked. “For me, it’s wanting to have a feeling of confidence in knowing that when you look back there, there’s a guy with a strong presence and somebody who’s going to not be fazed by anything. We have that in both Brad and Tim.”
NOTES: Klinsmann said defender Timmy Chandler texted that he was OK after leaving in the 68th minute Monday as Eintracht Frankfurt beat Nuremberg in the second leg of their playoff to remain in the Bundesliga. … Dallas defender Kellyn Acosta, who is not on the Copa roster, was added to the group for the Ecuador match. … Defender Geoff Cameron, who injured a hamstring in Stoke’s season finale on May 15, is unlikely to play against Ecuador but should be available for the Copa tournament, Klinsmann said. … Defender Fabian Johnson “should be all right” with a groin injury, Klinsmann said. Johnson has not played in a match since April 24 with Borussia Moenchengladbach.