US and Aston Villa number two keeper Brad Guzan responds to your questions about England, his future at Villa and more in this latest edition of Best XI.
I) Have you given any thought about leaving Aston Villa in the summer for a starting position at another team? I think Brad Friedel still has one or two more good years in him.
- Leo Perez, San Antonio, Texas
I have not necessarily thought about leaving Aston Villa, but I have thought about playing more regularly. I know that I need to start playing, and if at the end of the year when I sit down with the manager, the plans make sense for me to go out on loan then that is a possibility I will be open to.
II) What is the most prized piece in your soccer memorabilia collection?
- Neal Curtis, St. Louis, Missouri
The most prized piece of soccer memorabilia I have would be the numerous different jerseys from players that I have played against. On a more personal note, I would also say my Gold Glove from ESP Camp (before I went to college) has a lot of meaning as well. That award allowed me to believe in myself that I could play at the next level, college, and ultimately professionally.
III) What role, if any, does the NCAA have in the future of American soccer? What role did it play in your career?
- Taylor Smith, Greenville, South Carolina
I think the NCAA has a big role is the future of American soccer. For starters, it gives kids the opportunity to continue their soccer career and also get an education. Also, if you look at the amount of players that use those four years to come on to the radar of professional clubs, it is huge and if not for that time, may have faded and ended their career. For me, it gave me the confidence to play professionally and to think about what it would take to make it at the next level.
IV) What was your first major challenge after heading abroad?
- Noah Boughdy, Bath, Pennsylvania
The first major challenge for me coming abroad was the speed of the game. ALL the players are so technically good, understand where the next pass has to go and can finish from anywhere that the first few months took some adjusting to. Like going from high school to college and college to MLS, this was just another jump to a faster speed.
V) Which player is the best shooter you have played against or have watched play in England and why?
- Bryan Smith, Indianapolis, Indiana
The best shooter I have played against would probably be Rooney, he is a true goal scorer. Since I have not technically played against him, I would have to say that training with John Carew is a goal scorer as well. His ability to place the ball and not panic when under pressure is very good. There are so many top names that I have been fortunate to play against, or unfortunately depending on how you look at it.
VI) What has been your greatest moment at Aston Villa so far?
- Briyon Anthony, Washington, DC
My greatest moment while at Aston Villa, would probably be my game against Sunderland in the League Cup. Aside from the penalties, I had a solid game and helped the team move onto the next round of the tournament.
VII) What are the most valuable things you have learned from studying under Friedel? What do you see as the biggest obstacle for the US having a deep run in the World Cup?
- Bryan Dunham, Wichita, Kansas
The most valuable things I have learned from Brad would have to be his ability to be consistent. To be a top goalkeeper year in and year out in the best league in the world is a great achievement. To see how he stays composed, his ability to make a big save, and give confidence to the team are just some of the attributes that I have been able to take away from training with him everyday.
For the US to have a deep run in the World Cup, we are going to have to play some good soccer, stay organized, and have a little luck along the way as well. The World Cup is the biggest stage, so each game will be very difficult. After last summer at the Confederations Cup, we know that we can compete with any team on any given day, so hopefully we can take that confidence into this summer and have a good run.
VIII) What did it feel like to lead your team to the League Cup Final, get benched for it - and then lose the match?
- Matto Shaozu, Osaka, Japan
To make it to the final and then get benched and then to lose the game, it was absolutely heartbreaking. After you help your team to get to a final, especially a competition like the League Cup, and then to not play was devastating.
At the end of the day, there is not much you can do about it as the manager makes the final decision, so I did not have much time to dwell on the decision. I just had to get on with it and help my team in any other way. Then to lose the game, was even more of a blow. You always want to be part of the big games and help your team be successful, so to not be involved and then lose, it was a rough day for everyone!
IX) Being second in line for both the USMNT and Aston Villa has to be tough without any live action. How do you stay sharp?
- Rob Martin, Columbus, Ohio
For me, preparing before every game as I am going to be playing helps me to stay sharp. If I prepare throughout the week as if I am going to play it not only keeps me sharp in training, but it also helps to motivate to keep pushing if my name is not called for the starting 11.
X) What do miss the most about Los Angeles and what do you like the most about living in Birmingham, England? Since we are both Chicago boys, what food do you miss the most from here?
- Felix Santos, Chicago, Illinois
The thing I miss most about Los Angeles, besides my friends that I made while I was there, would have to be the beach! Living in Birmingham, allows me to see the whole country as I am only about 2 hours from both London and Manchester. Being in the city, its not as big as some other cities, but not a small little town either.
From Chicago, I would definitely say I miss a nice steak the most. Whenever I get back home, the first meal that I go for is to a steakhouse. Obviously I miss my family the most as they are all back in Chicago, but a nice steak really hits the spot!
XI) Besides Friedel, what other Americans do you see on a regular basis in England?
- Taylor St. Andrew, Minneapolis, Minnesota
I speak to most of the Americans over here in Europe. I went up to Manchester a few weeks ago to see Stuart Holden and usually speak to the other guys every few weeks to see how everything is going. If we aren't grabbing a meal we are sending texts and exchanging calls.