Brad Guzan: From Goat to Villain

usa goalkeeper brad guzan

Player Profile: Brad Guzan

Date of Birth: 9/9/1984

Height: 1.93 m (6 ft 4 in)

Position: Goalkeeper

National Team: United States Men’s National Team

International Caps: 64

International Goals: 0

Club Career

Brad Guzan’s professional soccer career began in 2005 after he spent 2 years at the University of South Carolina. Guzan was drafted by, now-defunct, Chivas USA in Major League Soccer. Like most major American professional sports, MLS uses a draft system to allocate college athletes into the professional league.

The goalkeeper spent three and a half seasons in Los Angeles playing for The Goats. Not only was Guzan new to the league, but so was Chivas USA. The new expansion club went through it’s growing pains, and so did Guzan. Eventually, under future U.S. National Team boss Bob Bradley and then former U.S. National team player, Preki, Chivas saw success.

The club’s growth and an uptick in performances directly correlated to Guzan’s success. In 2007, he was named MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, and Chivas finished first in the Western Conference, before going on to lose in the semi-finals of the Western Conference playoffs.

Guzan’s performances in MLS had not gone unnoticed by English clubs, and in 2008 Guzan became the latest in a long succession of top American goalkeepers to make a move “across the pond.” In July 2018, Guzan made a reported £600,000 move to Birmingham-based club Aston Villa in the English Premier League. He became the first Chivas player to move to a top league in Europe.

When Guzan arrived in England at the end of the summer, he was greeted by fellow American goalkeeper, Brad Friedel, who had also signed for Villa that summer. Guzan made his Villa debut in September, in a League Cup match against Queen’s Park Rangers. He made his European debut later that fall in a UEFA Cup match against Slavia Prague. The game in Prague, which finished 1-0 to Villa, prompted his manager Martin O’Neill to remark that he was a “class goalkeeper in the making.” At this time he was still mainly playing as the backup to Friedel.

He once again started the 2009-10 Premier League season as Friedel’s backup, before being loaned to Championship side Hull City, initially on a one-month deal. The loan was extended through April as Hull’s goalkeeper Vito Mannone was injured and Guzan went on to make 16 appearances for the Tigers.

When he returned to Villa for the 2011-12 season, Guzan once again found himself the second choice ‘keeper, this time to veteran Irishman, Shay Given. Luck went Guzan’s way though as Given tore his hamstring and gave Guzan finally had an extended run in the first team.

Despite his time as the first-team goalkeeper, Villa failed to extend Guzan’s contract at the end of the 2012 season. This was only a short-term setback though, as new manager Paul Lambert re-signed him the day the Villa summer tour squad was announced.

With a new contract signed and a new manager who valued him, Guzan had a career-best year. By the end of the season, Guzan was a Villa hero as his strong play between the posts helped Villa avoid relegation. He was named Aston Villa’s Player of the Year and rewarded with a new four-year contract. 

Guzan would go on to play three more seasons for Aston Villa, during which his form was as up and down as Villa’s as the club continued to fight relegation. Managers changed, and so did Villa’s starting goalkeeper. A dip in Guzan’s form led new manager Tim Sherwood to drop him during the 2014-15 season, in favor of the more experienced Given.

Aston Villa’s 29-year run in the English top-flight ended at the end of the 2015-16 season, and so did Guzan’s spell with the club. He signed a two-year contract with newly-promoted club Middlesbrough. He left Villa having made 171 appearances in all competitions for the club over 8 seasons.

Despite the two-year contract, Guzan lasted just one season with the North Yorkshire-based club. It was far from a match made in heaven as Middlesbrough won only 5 games, and were immediately relegated right back to the Championship. For his part, Guzan played in just 10 games that season.

In January 2017, it was announced that Guzan had signed a deal to move back to America with the newly created MLS side, Atlanta United. Despite the MLS season beginning in March, Guzan would finish out the season with Middlesbrough and join Atlanta United in the summer.

Guzan made his debut in July, midway through the MLS season and kept 8 clean sheets through the rest of the season. He led the league in save percentages as Atlanta made the playoffs in their first-ever season. 

The following season, 2017-18, with Guzan still in goal Atlanta United dominated MLS on their way to lifting the 2018 MLS Cup. Guzan kept 8 clean sheets in the league as United also qualified for the CONCACAF Champions League.

In 2019, Guzan held the fort for Atlanta United once again, keeping a club record 14 clean sheets and making 91 saves. Atlanta made the playoffs, this time under new manager Frank de Boer, but were unable to defend their MLS Crown being knocked out of in the Conference Finals. However, Guzan and Atlanta United did manage to win the 2019 U.S. Open Cup. At the time of writing Guzan was entering his 16th season as a professional soccer player.

International Career

Brad Guzan is unlucky. He’s had an excellent professional career that anyone would be proud of. However, his international playing career has overlapped with arguably the greatest American goalkeeper of all-time, Tim Howard. And where field position players could be shoehorned into other positions when required, there’s really only one job for a goalkeeper. As such, Brad Guzan has spent most of his international career as a reliable number 2 to Tim Howard.

Since receiving his first cap in 2006, Brad Guzan has made nearly every roster for major competitions but has earned just 64 caps. He has been in the squad for two FIFA World Cups, three CONCACAF Gold Cups, and the 2009 Confederations Cup. As the starting goalkeeper at the 2015 Gold Cup, Guzan earned the Golden Glove award for his stellar play.

Although occasionally called up, Guzan has not regularly featured for the USMNT since the disaster in Trinidad that saw the United States eliminated during the qualification phase for the 2018 World Cup.

Did You Know?

– Guzan earned All-American honors while playing soccer at the University of South Carolina

– He is a devout Christian, saying about his faith, “That is how I get through my personal life, how I get through my professional life – following Christ. … we all need Christ in our lives”.

– Guzan plays with his 3 children’s names on his football boots.