JACKSONVILLE, Fla. —
Guzan remained a backup. He filled in capably when Given was sidelined a month by an injury, but once Given was healthy, Guzan returned to the bench. Frustrated, Guzan considered leaving Villa. He ultimately decided to stay, re-signing with the club and finally got the starting job.
It may have the best decision of his career.
“It’s always nice when you’re linked with other teams, but I’ve been very fortunate to be at a club like Aston Villa for so long,” said Guzan, whose latest contract keeps him there through 2017. “Not many players stick with one club for as long as I have. Granted, I didn’t play too much the first four years. But I feel like now is my time to give back to them.”
Guzan has since blossomed into one of the best netminders in the Premier League, starting nearly every game the last two seasons.
And he probably could start for a number of other World Cup teams.
But for the Americans, who consistently produce some of world’s top keepers, he’s behind Howard again.
“It goes both ways,” Guzan said. “He makes me a better goalkeeper and I like to think I make him better as well. Our training environment, the atmosphere we’ve created among our goalkeeping group, it’s been really good. We’re very competitive. We all want to play. At the end of the day, we all support each other. I think that’s important.
“So for me, it’s just a matter of playing to the best of ability. And if I can do that, I leave the rest up to the staff.”
Howard is a virtual lock to start the World Cup opener against Ghana on June 16. How much, or even if, Guzan plays in Brazil remains to be seen. But many believe this could be Howard’s final World Cup.