JOHN KRETLOW - Sunday, May 23, 2010
At camp with the US national team and preparing for the World Cup, Brad Guzan reflected about the state of the national team going into this summer's tournament and his role as a backup for both club and country.
With the entire 30-man roster finally in camp and practicing, Guzan touched on the subject of creating team chemistry in such short time.
"With the national team you've got players that are coming in from all over the world that are coming from different backgrounds, and different situations in terms of playing 90 minutes week in week out to not playing 90 minutes week in and week out," Guzan told Yanks Abroad.
In Guzan's case, the Illinois native has not had much first team action since arriving in England and has therefore taken up a backup role for Aston Villa.
He has played backup to American Brad Friedel there and since 2006, he has established himself as the second choice goalkeeper for the US, backing up Everton's Tim Howard.
Though many questions still exist regarding some roster spots going into the World Cup, coach Bob Bradley chose his three goalkeepers that are definitely on their way to South Africa.
Tim Howard is the team's undisputed number one, but the backup role is still up for grabs.
Marcus Hahnemann was a mainstay at Wolverhampton this season in the Premier League and has put himself in contention for the number two spot that Guzan has held this World Cup cycle.
Both players will try to persuade Bradley at camp on who should step up if Howard cannot suit up.
Regardless of this role, Guzan has thrived in his backup responsibility and is looking at the positive.
"Everyday [I am] pushing myself, pushing Timmy [Howard], Marcus [Hahnemann], Brad Friedel," he explained. "Whoever [it] may be, it's a matter of getting better as a goalkeeper and fighting for playing time. That's what this business is about. It's about having good players around you and getting better."
This preparation and mindset served well as Bradley called on Guzan to play the final group game in last year's Confederation Cup first round against Egypt.
With only a small chance at making it to the knockout stages of the tournament, Guzan shutout the Egyptian team, helping spark a US run to the final of the tournament.
The University of South Carolina product though understands the difference between last year's Confederation Cup and this year's World Cup.
"[It was a] Good tournament and good experience for us, but obviously we know that it will be much different in the summer, in terms of more spotlight on the tournament and on us," noted Guzan.
"It's exciting. It's the biggest tournament in the world, so to be a part of that is something very special and for all these guys it's a big opportunity for us as a team and as a country".
The former MLS All Star is quick to point out that he is only focused on this summer and not the next World Cup cycle, where he will have a renewed opportunity to vie for a starting spot.
"Four years is a long time a way," he concluded. "For us, it's all about the summer, the next month. So for me, it's not something I think about."