Atlanta United is known for their threatening attack around MLS, but in Sunday’s match at Red Bull Arena, it was their goalkeeper, Brad Guzan, who stood out.
As the New York Red Bulls’ attack fired shot after shot at him, particularly in a second half that saw Guzan’s opposition fire eight shots, the goalkeeper preserved a point on the road in a 0-0 draw.
Five nights before he was at his most useful for club, he was sitting on the bench for country as the U.S. Men’s National Team lost, 2-1, to Trinidad and Tobago, a result that ensured the U.S. would miss their first World Cup since 1986.
The feeling was “not great, by any means,” Guzan said after the draw with the Red Bulls.
“We know we failed,” he said. “We know we let a lot of people down and obviously, with a result like that and everything that happened, there’s all sorts of emotions — anger, disappointment, sadness.”
When he came back to Atlanta, there was no sign of a hangover after elimination from World Cup qualifying. As his coach, Gerardo Martino said, “He performed just like the professional that Brad is. It wasn’t his turn to play with the national team but he returned here and did his job for us.”
Nor was there a sign of said hangover in the match, as the goalkeeper made three saves in a performance that also had Atlanta captain Michael Parkhurst praising Guzan.
“He was tremendous tonight,” the defender said about the goalkeeper.. “He has been tremendous for us since he joined. He’s single-handedly taken some points for us in a couple of games. He’s a big confidence boost to the team. We’ve got what I think is the best goalkeeper in the league behind us.”
As for Guzan’s return to Atlanta, Parkhurst said that disappointing not to see his teammate play for the USMNT last week. Parkhurst added that Guzan “[went] out there and [proved] that it was a mistake not to play him” in Trinidad and Tobago.
Though Parkhurst was quick to shower Guzan with compliments, the goalkeeper himself was much more modest on his own performance.
“Ultimately, there’s always things you get better at,” he said. “We’ll go back and watch the video and look at things to get better… There’s always room for improvement.”
While the goalkeeper remains focused on Atlanta with the playoffs in sight, Guzan has not ruled out returning to the national team. Though things are currently up in the air for the USMNT, the 33 year old said that “in goalkeeping years, I’m somewhat fairly young”. Should he be called in for the November friendlies that the U.S. team is set to play, he said, “I’ll be there.”
Guzan was able to add some positives to a tough week, yet the sting of Tuesday is still there. The key to bouncing back, he said, is being able to separate the two.
“For Atlanta United, it’s a good point on the road,” he added. “Doesn’t take away from the disappointment of U.S. Soccer.”