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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. The only chance El Salvador has is for the crowd to intimidate the US team. Which gk is most likely to keep his focus while foreign objects whiz past his head?

    I think it’s Hahnemann, with his age and experience.

    It *would* be great experience for Guzan, but this early in the quallies, getting results is everything.

  2. As an FYI, Howard’s time-wasting yellow was for taking a run up to kick the ball, stop, and then turn around to take another run up to it. Sitting behind his goal at the time, I had a good view of both what he did and when the ref reacted.

  3. I’m a Hahnemann fanemann. He’s amazing, has been for years, but has been slept on a lot. He should have way more than 6 caps. He’s a really nice guy too.

  4. not to sound to confident, but it shouldn’t really matter. we should win either way. doesn’t mean we will, it just means we should.

  5. Hahnemann should start this match. Guzan needs time and will get it, but Marcus has stood by, stuck being a great keeper who’s just not “as great” as Howard (and Friedel). I quite frankly believe he’s simply the better of the two at the moment.

  6. BTW, I don’t think the point that Hahnemann doesn’t know the players has much merit.

    He clearly knows Bocanegra, Gooch and Hejduk, who are likely to be three of the defenders in front of him, from the Gold Cup and WC teams they were all on. Same with Dempsey, Beasley and Mastroeni (assuming he starts) in midfield.

    Same with the likely starters at forward, Donovan and Ching.

    He doesn’t know Pearce, Bradley and Edu as well, of course, but they all played together for the Switzerland game.

    Obviously Guzan has played with these guys more of late and that is certainly a plus for him.

    But it’s not like Hahnemann doens’t know the fellas he’ll be lining up with. Plus, it’s not like they won’t have a week of practice together. They’re all pros and I suspect they can come together quickly. That’s why they’re there.

    So, I’d go with Marcus just because he’s playing more – and playing well – right now.

  7. I’d be shocked to see Hahnemann in net. Guzan has been #2 since Bradley has been in charge, meaning had Howard gotten hurt against Mexico (which is clearly what Rafa was going for), Guzan is the guy Bradley trusted enough to put in that situation. Injuries happen in soccer and in a high pressure situation like that, you don’t bring guys “along for the experience.” Our friend south of the boarder Sven tried doing it with Theo Wolcott and look how that turned out. For now Guzan is #2 on the depth chart, Hahnemann is #3.

  8. It’s nitpicking because it doesn’t change the basic point, but Hahnemann has 7 caps, not 6.

    He got three under Bora late in 1994 after his rookie year with Seattle in the old APSL.

    He played in a friendly against New Zealand in 03 and then in a Gold Cup match against Cuba in 05 followed by a World Cup qualifier against Guatemala a few months later.

    And then he got the start against Switzerland in 07.

    Personally, I’d go with Hahnemann just because he’s played a lot more lately but the point that Guzan needs all the experience he can get has merit.

  9. Who should get it? HAHNEMAN as he is in-form and has played at the highest levels for several years. He deserves this.

    Who will get it? I see Bradly, in his typical manner, playing the young players that he sees as his future. I think he will frustrate us once again and actually play Guzan because he has identified him as the back-up to Howard.

  10. Why is this even a topic? Hahnemann doesn’t even get called in for friendlies any more. Guzan is the number two, therefore he plays. End of story.

  11. I want to say Guzan, but there’s more reason for Hahnemann to start this game. I think he’s going to be one of our 3 World Cup keepers, with Howard and Guzan. All three need to be comfortable with the current group of players, and Hahnemann has the least experience with them. Add to that his current form, and I think it tips the scales in his direction.

    Plus, I just can’t personally see bringing in Hahnemann for this game if you’re not going to use him.

  12. No question. Go with Guzan. Hahnemann was never a part of the team, while Guzan is the current back up and might be a starter by the time we get to the 2018 World Cup cycle. Hahnemann will a forgotten retiree by then.

  13. I’ve always liked Hahnemann – I feel a lot more comfortable with him in goal than Guzan. That’s nothing against Guzan – and everything for Marcus.

    That said: Why should Bradley start counting actually playing and performing for your club now?

  14. Hahnemann. You’d always choose the in-form, playing, experienced GK with premiership experience.

    The knock against MH starting is that he doesn’t have experience with the US backline? That’s an argument for him to play. If you were going to use a WC qualifier to give someone experience then give Hahnemann experience with the backline against SLV!

    In any case, I’m not convinced you use an away WC qualifier as a get-experience game when you still need points to qualify.

  15. Hahnemann. Bradley shouldn’t pick favorites, Hahnemann is clearly the more veteran and experienced ‘keeper, and he shouldn’t be shut out of the WC squad, Bruce Arena-style.

  16. @kahlva: ROTFLMAO!!!! Hilarious..

    I think Coach Bradley should go with Hahnemann in goal. He is a solid veteran and gets minutes with his team. How familiar should he be with his squad if he is 1v1 with a break away? or up against a PK? I think that argument figures very little into whether Guzan or Hahnemann should be the US keeper vs. El Salvador.

    Hahnemann, BROTHER!!

  17. Reading better offer Hahnemann a new contract or he will be heading off to a PL team. Surely he can be a GK on a newly promoted EPL team or at least a mid table like Hull or Portsmouth.

  18. 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.

  19. Talk about a tough call to make. Good problem for Bob and the U.S. to have though. Hopefully for Bob’s sake whoever he does pick plays well other wise he will take a beaten in the Ives comments section after the game!

    I say toss a coin!

    Heads = Hahnemann
    Tails = Guzan

  20. Guzan. Bradley needs to learn that you can actually CREATE experienced players by giving them experience.

    Posted by: JeffM | March 25, 2009 at 09:36 AM

    agreee 100%, give guzan the chance. Goat great line.

    Who do you think will be the 3rd gk in ’10 (not that it is overly pressing just something to think about) will it be perkins or someone like hanheman who has experience?

  21. I’m swayed by the experience argument…..lets put in Hahnemann for this match. Guzan has plenty of time to develop and prove himself in less-dire circumstances.

  22. Guzan. He’s getting some (not a lot) playing time with Villa AND he’s much more familiar with Gooch and Bocanegra.

  23. The better question is when is US Soccer going to enforce its rules about goalkeepers’ hairstyles and force Guzan to shave his head?

  24. This is a really tough question. Hahnemanns experience and composure in he net wins in my opinion. The game in Switzerland showed how good he is away from home. Guzan, however made the mistake of handling a ball outside the box in that game. I would really like to say Guzan, but I really think him being there could lead to a crisis in the back.

  25. Guzan is solid and will likely start. He’s a young GK with a lot of potential and this game would be good experience for him.

    Hahnemann is also a solid gk, but he’s at the end of his career. It’s likely that he won’t make the WC squad. I think he was brought in to provide quality depth, not to start.

  26. marcus. it’s a road game, go with the experience.

    also, you have an old picture of him there, Reading has a different sponsor this season. 🙂


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