Prior to the Copa America Centenario kicking off, Jurgen Klinsmann announced that once again Brad Guzan would be his go-to starter in his moment of need. He did the same thing right before the United States played Mexico in the CONCACAF Cup in 2015. After months of the platoon, the U.S. manager decided it was time to go back to a dedicated starter for this major tournament and settled on Guzan.
The Aston Villa goalkeeper started five of the six matches the U.S. played in the Copa. Here's a look at his numbers:
Games Played: 5
Goals Conceded: 7
Save Percentage: 72%
Clean Sheets: 2
With a consistent back line in front of him, Guzan settled into the tournament nicely after the opening match against Colombia. Against Costa Rica and Paraguay, he made several match-saving saves. Early in the match against the Ticos, they piled on the pressure and Guzan held up well to give his side the confidence to push on and eventually blow out their fellow CONCACAF side.
It could be argued that Guzan only made one mistake all tournament in five matches. But it was a huge mistake to make in the team's most important match.
That Ezequiel Lavezzi goal. Oof.
He hesitated, he was indecisive, and he was just plain lost. It was a terrible moment that rivaled his botched handball against Jamaica in 2015. Guzan had two options. Stay on his line and attempt to save the shot or pressure the ball and hope to either punch, save, or disrupt the shot. He decided on neither and came halfway and watched Lavezzi's header float over the top of his head. It's likely a moment he'll want to forget and one that scars an otherwise good performance in the tournament.
Also, if we're nitpicking, Tim Howard proved in his one match of action that his distribution of the ball is far superior. Guzan is a liability in this this area and Howard proved it in his 90 minutes.
Copa Grade - B
The goal against Argentina is a bitter pill to swallow, but it would be unfair to ignore all of his great work prior to that. He helped keep the U.S. in the matches that they won and looked much more confident in goal (save the Argentina match) with a cohesive back four in front of him. The chemistry between goalkeeper and defense is growing and that spells good news for the future of the USMNT.
Guzan's future is very much up in the air. For now he returns to Aston Villa who have been relegated to the English Championship. Was his performance in this tournament enough to mask an awful club season and attract some transfer interest? Only time will tell. Does he even need a move out of the second-divison to sustain his USMNT starting job? It's really tough to say. Klinsmann is loyal to his players and Guzan did nothing to hurt his standing in the Copa. As long as Guzan is playing somewhere he should have a good chance at keeping his job for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers.