The Aston Villa Brads present an interesting question for U.S. Men's National team coach Bob Bradley. What to do, what to do.
Brad Freidel is, in my opinion, the most consistently good American goalkeeper and easily a top 3 in the Premier League. He has stayed healthy, good, strong and consistent. Freidel has appeared in over 200 consecutive Premier League games and counting. This year he has 11 clean sheets (shutouts) and looks good to get probably 5 or 6 more.
Now Freidel has retired from international competition, but if for some reason Tim Howard goes down, I think Bob Bradley would be insane to not to pick up the phone and dial Freidel's number or better yet, fly to Birmingham, England and get on his knees and beg Freidel to be on the World Cup squad.
Freidel is a phenomenal shot stopper, with great command of the box, and despite being big and almost 40, is still amazingly quick.
Which leads us to the other Brad, Guzan that is. Guzan has been studying at Freidel's side for the past year with the Villans. Guzan is a fine keeper in his own right, and has gotten better, to a certain extent, serving as Freidel's understudy. But Guzan is not getting the minutes he needs to become a better keeper. Of course, keepers, barring serious injury, can play for a much longer time. Not only Freidel, but Kasey Keller, and Pat Onstad are nearing or past 40. But Guzan is a doubt to be that number 2.
Bob Bradley can be overly loyal to a fault, but Marcus Hahnemann is playing out of his skin of late for Wolverhampton. (BTW, Hahnemann is also 38 this year and no spring chicken) And that makes remaining loyal to Guzan as the number 2 tough.
What Guzan needs more than anything else is minutes--lots of them and consistently. Tim Howard will be the number 1 barring injury for this World Cup and probably 2014 as well. If Guzan wants to be really thought of as the number 2 in the U.S., then playing time is what he needs. A loan or an outright transfer to even a Championship side would be a good move for Guzan.
Bob Bradley has a Brad problem. I think Freidel is a better keeper than Tim Howard and I think Guzan needs to get out of Friedel's shadow.