Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Brad Friedel has backed Aston Villa’s Brad Guzan to take over the USA number one jersey, in light of recent uncertainty surrounding Tim Howard’s international future.
Having originally pushed Shay Given out of the first-choice job at the start of the 2012-13 campaign, Guzan has earned a reputation over the past two seasons as one of the top shot-stoppers in the Premier League, keeping the relegation-threatened side in numerous games with his impressive performances.
However, Howard’s presence on the national team has seen the former MLS star earn just 25 caps since his 2006 debut, with the Everton stalwart proving his value to Jurgen Klinsmann at the World Cup this summer with a record 15-save performance in the 1-0 last 16 defeat to Belgium.
At 34 though, his status for Russia 2018 is up in the air and Friedel, who Guzan backed-up from 2008 to 2011 at Villa, has said his teammate is ready to step up should the incumbent starter decide to concentrate on his club career.
‘I watch MLS all the time, so I'm always keeping an eye out [for goalkeepers],’ he said. ‘But I do see that Brad is the next guy in line if Tim decides to step down, or even if Brad beats him out.’
Friedel, who appeared 82 times for the US, also went on to hail the future of the position for the national side, having seen the side produce a string of established options over the past two decades.
‘The other thing is that even when Tim stops and Brad comes in, or when Brad stops, we're going to be developing another one,’ he added. ‘It has historically been one of the positions that hasn't been a problem for the US, dating back to 1990 with Meola and all the way up to Timmy.
‘I do see Brad as the next guy, but after that there could be a fight on. The other thing that is certain is that as MLS gets better, the goalkeeping is going to get better and there will be more competition for places.’
Having been firmly placed on the Mount Rushmore of US keepers, alongside Tony Meola, Kasey Keller and Freidel himself, if the 104-times capped Howard does ultimately bow out then it will be a sad occasion, but the team at least know that their future is in great hands with Guzan waiting in the wings.