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Guzan or Hahnemann: Who will start?

Brad Friedel (    Marcus Hahnemann (


As the United States national team prepares for its second World Cup qualifier of the Hexagonal against El Salvador on Saturday (9 PM et. ESPN2), one of the positions in the starting eleven that could be up for grabs is goalkeeper.

When Tim Howard received a yellow card for "time wasting" after getting karate-kicked by Rafael Marquez in the United States' 2-0 win over Mexico in February, most U.S. fans assumed Brad Guzan would step in for Bob Bradley against los cuscatlecos. Now, with a healthy and in-form Marcus Hahnemann back in the national team fray, the decision is not so simple.

Guzan, for all the talent he has, is still a young and relatively inexperienced goalkeeper who has made only the occasional start for Aston Villa. His lack of playing time could cost him against Hahnemann, who has recently returned from injury to regain his starting role for Reading.

Hahnemann has played in 25 league games this season, notching a 15-7-8 record in the process. His 11 shutouts has Reading in prime position to gain promotion to the Premiership and his constant playing time may be enough to persuade Bradley to give him the start.

So Hahnemann should get the start, right? Not necessarily.

Hahnemann, who is touted as having loads of experience, lacks familiarity with the current crop of United States players and that could be reason enough to leave him on the bench in San Salvador.

The Reading goalkeeper has only played once under Bradley and that was back in October 2007 in a 1-0 victory over Switzerland. Hahnemann played only 45 minutes that day and was replaced at half-time by Guzan.

During Bradley's two-year term, Guzan has played in more games (11) than Hahnemann (6) has in his entire career with the United States national team.

So does Bradley go with the in-form veteran or do you go with the promising youngster who is more familiar with the squad? A strong case can be made for either goalkeeper and the depth that the two provide is certainly a positive for American fans.

What do you think of the goalkeeper situation? Are you worried by Howard's absence? Think Guzan gets the call, or will Hahnemann's playing time convince Bradley to select him? Who would you start against El Salvador?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I think Bradley will go with Guzan because he has been his number 2 for a while but I prefer Hahnemann for now. He has the experience and is his teams number 1.

  2. I’d go with Marcus, he’s playing more. A rusty keeper is a dangerous thing. One mistake could kill.

    Guzan is being groomed to be the #2, but I don’t think he’s necessarily there yet.

  3. There will be plenty of time for Guzan to play at the Gold Cup if he needs to.

    Important game, on the road, go with the guy who is playing. That guy is Hahnemann.

  4. Jeebus, Ives. Teach your co-writers how to post a poll! This subject is crying out for one.

    (In answer to the question – they are both fine with me.)

  5. I’d let the US team pick, call in Gooch, Boca, Donovan, Dempsey, and Beasley, and ask them who they’d rather have there

  6. If you look at the current crop of keepers the US has, it looks like Guzan is the back-up and heir apparent to the US goal after Howard retires. Now let’s say the unthinkable happens and Howard gets injuried and has to miss the World Cup. Don’t you think it’s better to give him time between the sticks in a road qualifier when it still matters? Guzan needs the minutes in case the worst happens and we need him in the cup. We have been spoiled by having Keller and Friedel over the last two cycles and we need to speed up our back-up keepers development.

  7. i’m sure these same people that are saying not to start guzan bc he isn’t getting minutes and the other guy (in this case hahnemann) has more overall experience are the ones who complain when ching (more minutes and experience) starts ahead of jozy or when freddy doesn’t start for us.

    it’s important to get experience for the younger players but it’s more important to get results when you’re trying to qualify for the world cup.

  8. It’s gotta be Guzan. Why would Bob Bradley make Guzan the #2 if he he wasn’t capable of making a start? He may not have been starting, but he has been training with a top team and learning from Friedel.

  9. @EA – When did Friedel’s record-smashing consecutive match starting record in the premiership start? 2004. When did he retire from the USMNT? 2004.

    We have plenty of other options at GK. Friedel is not and would never be an option unless something catastrophic happened to Guzan, Hahnemann, Howard and Keller all at the same time. Even then, I’m not sure he would un-retire.

  10. Steve B….

    Friedel retired from international competition before the last World Cup. His last cap was in 2004.

    I still believe if something catastrophic happened to Tim Howard, say, next spring, you’d see Friedel suit up again.

  11. aw turtle… did I hurt your feelings, you little bitch?
    Starting 3 consecutive games is still far more than can be said for Guzan, no?
    My point still stands.
    Oh, and grow some skin.

  12. Fireball – I’m just saying the “in form” argument isn’t as strong as made out to be. I think the fact he was out with an injury for so long and has recently come back levels things a bit – IMO. If all things are equal in that regard, the comfort level with the backline tilts things in Guzan’s favor.

    fig – Starting 3 consecutive games after missing 2 1/2 months with injury equals starting regularly? It seems “you know nothing about” Marcus Hahnemann. You might want to do some research before going on some condescending rant that makes you look foolish.

  13. Turtle.

    Yes, Hahnemann is in-form. 3 games is a month’s worth of recent play, 3 clean sheets and 8 saves this last weekend alone. In the process, he won his spot back when the other keeper was doing well.

  14. Interesting comments on this thread.

    Those who say we’ll win regardless of which GK we use…
    Congratulations, you know nothing about Concacaf qualifying.

    Those who say we should use this match as a way to give Guzan experience…
    Congratulations, you know nothing about Concacaf qualifying.

    The toughest match the USMNT plays is an away match in the hexagonal. You don’t experiment or season players in these situations. You go with your best 11 and you get points NOW. You don’t take anything for granted.

    Hahnemann should start since he’s been starting regularly and has far more experience than Guzan. Whether Guzan is the de-facto #2 or not shouldn’t even be a consideration. It’s all about current form.

    The amount of overconfidence and cluelessness in these comments is staggering.

  15. Guzan is our go to Keeper in about 5 years. Right now Hahnemann is the right option. No slap to Guzan because he in time will be great but you have to go with form and Marcus has it right now.

  16. I said it yesterday, and I’ll say it again today, I think Guzan has played so much over the last year for the purposes of acquiring a work permit.

    When comparing apples to apples, I think Hahnemann is still a better goalkeeper.

  17. I am kinda sick of our USMNT using the USMNT as a means of getting American players to transfer to clubs overseas and ride the bench. The only reason Hahnemann (who in my opinion is the #2 GK and should be the #2 GK) has never gotten a good sniff is because of Friedel and Keller being alive and outstanding. If Guzan is the future of the USMNT, then he has another 10 years to be that.

    In the end, it probably wouldn’t matter because our back line is solid enough regardless, but I am sick of playing time/good form for your club team not equaling playing time for the USMNT.

  18. For me this is a stupid question. This is the same story as Mastroeni and Hejduk. I love Hahnneman Mastroeni and Hejduk and their experience. But this trio really has no future with the USMNT. We have younger more promising player at their respective positions that need the experience. I think this is a moot point.

  19. I’ll put on my “Risk Management” hat for this:

    I don’t know how important “familiarity” is with the defensive players for a goalie. However, playing Marcus seems like the less-risky move.

  20. Guzan is our no.2 for the WC. Hahnemann although talented is our no.3 for the WC. I’d let Hahnemann start the T&T game and give this 1 to Guzan. Either is enough to guarantee a shutout.

    Posted by: kevinjohnson | March 25, 2009 at 10:27 AM

    Sorry but no one outside of Tim Howard is going to start against Trinidad. This is about ONE game where our top choice is suspended.

  21. In form???? Hahnemann has been back for exactly 3 games. Prior to that his last full game was Dec 6th! If 3 good games makes you the “in form” guy then we need to look at whole bunch of other players to bring in to camp.

    I think Guzan has a leg up in this case. At least he’s been training without a break and he did jsut see action against Liverpool. I’d be willing to bet Guzan is actually in better form. Together with his familiarity with Gooch and Boca…


  22. Hahnemann. The guy is playing against teams that are decent while Guzan isn’t playing at all. Don’t get me wrong, I’d start Guzan if he was playing but Marcus is solid as well. Plus it’s El Salvador, I don’t see any pressure there especially the european based wall of Onyewu and Bocanegra…..

  23. Hahnemann. No substitute for match experience – and this is an away WCQ qualifier with precious points up for grabs. Let’ BG come off the bench if needed – it is a role he has been playing all season. NM

  24. Hahnemann. On the road, go with experience and the guy who’s been playing regular first team soccer. Guzan is going to be a good one, but when it comes to road qualifiers in Central America, go with experience. That goes for the entire starting lineup, not a good time to blood the young guys as it’s likely to be an ugly game.

  25. I’d be surprised if Guzan didn’t get the start. Brad has been Bradley’s #2 goalkeeper for some time now. No offense to Marcus, but World Cup qualifiers are not the time for Bradley to experiment with Hahnemann.

  26. I say go with Hahnemann just because this will probably be it. Guzan has a long future ahead of him. His time is coming, where Hahnemann has very little chances of international play after 09-10. Howard, Guzan, Robles, Seitz this list could get longer. Give him a chance.

  27. Is Howard joining the team for the April 1 WCQ? If not, have Guzan play the first game and Hahnemann the second. Both players could use the experience, while Howard could use some rest.


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