Having seized the starting job at Aston Villa at the start of the 2012-13 campaign, Brad Guzan has earned a reputation over the past two seasons as one of the top goalkeepers in the Premier League, keeping the relegation-threatened side in numerous games with his impressive performances.
However, Tim Howard’s ever-reliable presence in the USA goal since 2007 has seen the former Chivas USA star restricted to just 25 caps following his debut in 2006, with the Everton keeper proving his value to Jurgen Klinsmann at the World Cup this summer with a record 15-save performance in the last-16 defeat to Belgium.
Nevertheless, at 35, the belief that the veteran could step aside to usher in the “Guzan era” has been widespread since, with his prospects for Russia 2018 far from bright and his backup a more than capable replacement.
His decision made after over a month of contemplation, Howard hasn’t gone down the retirement route but, after announcing that he is set to take a break from the national team until September 2015, he might as well have.
The door now open for Guzan to take the gloves and never look back, the Villa shot-stopper has just over 12 months to impress Klinsmann, with the 2015 Gold Cup next summer being the headliner for him to showcase his credentials.
If the 29-year-old replicates his recent form during that time, it will prove tremendously hard to justify giving Howard the job back once he returns, and it could even prompt the Toffees stalwart to make his break a permanent one.
Of course, there could also end up being an ensuing battle between the pair, in somewhat similar fashion to the one between Kasey Keller and Brad Friedel during the 2002 World Cup cycle but, at this point, most would suggest the job is Guzan’s to lose.
With current third-choice Nick Rimando and MLS-based options Bill Hamid and Sean Johnson then competing for backup roles, the keeper position continues to be one of amazing pedigree for the US and, as the Villa man attempts to secure the role for at least the next World Cup campaign, the future remains in great hands.
Will Guzan keep the USA No. 1 job for good?