The 31-year-old goalkeeper put in a confident display in Wednesday night's 1-0 friendly win over Ecuador.
USA No. 1 Brad Guzan enjoyed a timely boost of confidence on Wednesday night, keeping a clean sheet as Jurgen Klinsmann’s side beat Ecuador 1-0 in their second of three warm-up friendlies before next month’s Copa America Centenario.
The 31-year-old was only forced into one save during the 90 minutes, but he made a handful of key plays off his line during the first half to help keep the scoreline goalless before substitute Darlington Nagbe popped up to score a last-minute winner.
The clean sheet was his 11th in 43 appearances for the US national team, but the Chicago native was quick to deflect praise onto his defence at the final whistle.
Speaking to MLSSoccer.com after the match in Frisco, Texas, Guzan said: “It’s an added bonus. Give credit to them – [Ecuador] didn’t really create a whole lot, and that was a testament to the work rate of the guys in front of me.
“The times they got through, we were able to clean things up. That’s all you can ask.”
Having come off a difficult season at Aston Villa, Guzan’s assured performance against Ecuador should help quell some fears about his form ahead of the USA’s Copa America opener against Colombia on 3 June in Santa Clara, California.
The former Chivas USA goalkeeper established himself as one of the Premier League’s leading shot-stoppers during his first two seasons as Villa’s full-time starter, winning the club’s Player of the Year award in 2013, but he has received considerable criticism from fans and the media alike over the past 18 months after enduring a dramatic decline in form.
His increasingly error-strewn displays have led to him being benched by three different managers during that period, and with the Midlands outfit now dropping down to the Championship, it remains to be seen whether he still has a future in B6.
At the same time, though, the under-fire American has fared well for the States since getting his first extended run between the posts after long-time starter Tim Howard took a 12-month sabbatical from international football following the 2014 World Cup, standing out as one of the team’s few bright spots during last summer’s poor Gold Cup campaign.
Head coach Klinsmann had been rotating the pair since Howard returned to the fold last September, but with the soon-to-be Colorado Rapids keeper also enduring a testing season with Everton, the German announced at the weekend that Guzan will be his first-choice going into the Copa America.
“We know it’s going to be a difficult tournament, [and] we know we’re going up against really good teams with really good players,” Guzan told MLSSoccer.com following the win over Ecuador. “Tonight was a taste of what we’re probably going to experience in the next couple of weeks, so it was good not only to get a clean sheet, but it was really important in getting a result.”
Recent reports have suggsted that Guzan is prepared to return to MLS this summer, but should he go on to impress at the Copa America, Villa’s incoming manager might just decide that the experienced custodian is worth keeping around for the final season of his contract.