NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Brad Guzan is intent on following his disappointing spring with a title in the CONCACAF Gold Cup
Guzan earned the starting job at Aston Villa over Shay Given early in the 2012-13 season but was replaced by Given in April, losing a chance to start in the FA Cup final, which the Villans lost to Arsenal 4-0.
With Tim Howard on a one-year sabbatical from the U.S. national team until September, Guzan will be the starter for the Americans in the Gold Cup, where the U.S. opens next week against Honduras.
“Anytime you’re in professional sports, there’s going to be ups, there’s going to be downs,” Guzan said ahead of Friday’s exhibition against Guatemala. “It’s a test of your character. It’s a test of your mentality, how you bounce back from those times when they don’t go your way, and you have to try and find a way to move forward from those.”
U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann believes experience helped Guzan put the adversity of the spring behind him.
“Coming through the last couple of weeks, the end of Premier League when things didn’t go his way, it’s not easy to swallow for anybody, but he’s 30 years old,” Klinsmann said. “He went through a lot of stuff overseas, and he can handle it. We had a couple of good talks, and he’s full of energy now.
“He’s in a very positive spirit. He wants to prove now that he’s a deserved No. 1 goalkeeper of the United States, which he is.”
Guzan was in goal last month when the U.S. won 4-3 at the Netherlands and 2-1 at Germany. Guzan made a number of critical saves as the Americans beat Germany on German soil for the first time.
“I’m just constantly trying to bring my best to help the team,” Guzan said. “I know I can play at this level. I know international football is a different test from club football. For me, you want to prove day in and day out that you belong.”
Guzan’s teammates say he’s done just that.
“Across the board, the confidence in Brad is huge,” said midfielder Michael Bradley, who is replacing Clint Dempsey as the U.S. captain. “We’re all excited for him now that he’s getting extended run of games as the No. 1. There’s full confidence in him that when big moments come, that he’ll be there for us.”
Guzan isn’t dwelling on what he accomplished the last two games. He says is isn’t worried about his future with Aston Villa or any competition that could take place on the national team once Howard returns ahead of the start of World Cup qualifying in November.
If the U.S. wins the Gold Cup, it earns a berth in the 2017 Confederations Cup.
“It’s good we were able to pick up those types of results — especially outside the country — but at the same time we know we need to focus our energy and mentality on what’s hopefully going to be an exciting month,” Guzan said.