Posts Tagged ‘Brad Guzan’

On Michael Bradley & Aston Villa

Timothy Abraham

The Shin Guardian had the occasion to interact last week with Aston Villa beat reporter Timothy Abraham who writes for Birmingham’s Express & Star. Abraham gives us an unvarnished, untarnished by American lens view on the goings on inside Villa Park. TSG is thankful to have Abraham’s thoughts here as we respect he’s an on-staff writer for the Express & Star.

Follow Tim on Twitter here.

(Editor’s Note: This TSG piece on Michael Bradley–vetted by Abraham–is a requisite read beforehand.)

Will it soon be a walk in the Park or from it?

TSG: You mentioned Michael Bradley is struggling with game speed. Do you think this is due to lack of game time or is it something different?

Timothy Abraham: Some players do take time to adjust to the pace of English football and I think this is evident in Michael’s case. In his fleeting appearances for the first team he has been caught in possession too easily sometimes and his passing has been found wanting. It is in stark contrast with Jean Makoun – who joined Villa from Lyon in the January transfer window – and has looked at home in English football straight away.

TSG: You mentioned that Michael Bradley won’t likely be resigned by Villa next year. Is he still Premiership material?

Timothy Abraham: The jury is out at the moment. I don’t think Michael’s situation has been helped by Villa having struggled at the bottom of the Premier League for most of the season. With the exception of Jean Makoun Villa manager Gerard Houllier has gone for players who are tried and tested in English football. If Villa are able to pull clear of the relegation battle in the next few matches then Michael might get a run of games towards the end of the season and given a chance to stake his claim to remain at Villa.

TSG: Will Michael Bradley’s situation be impacted at all by Nigel Reo Coker’s? Will Reo Coker resign with Villa? If not, if Bradley an option?


Timothy Abraham: Nigel Reo-Coker’s future is up in the air at the moment. His Villa career looked over when Martin O’Neill was in charge but he has been reinvigorated under Gerard Houllier. The problem for Reo-Coker is that he is probably not quite good enough for the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea etc so that leaves him with very few options. I think Villa is about his level but my inclination is to say that he is seeking a big contract and with under pressure to cut the wage bill he will not get the kind of deal he is after and will leave the club. I guess there is a chance Michael Bradley could be a replacement but with the kind of money that Borussia Monchengladbach want for him, and with a surplus of midfielders at Villa I think a deal is unlikely.

TSG:  About other Americans: Brad Friedel’s club standing? Will Eric Lichaj ever see the light of day at Villa? Or even Brad Guzan?

I want to work....there...

Timothy Abraham: I expect Brad Friedel will be offered a new deal although he may well have to accept that he will not be first choice next season as Villa look to sign a keeper for the future. Eric Lichaj has done well at Leeds and, with the exception of a couple of mistakes in a game against Manchester City on a day when no-one from Villa covered themselves in glory, when he came in he did well.

I’m not sure he’s quite in the class of on-loan Tottenham right-back Kyle Walker and with Lichaj being 22 I suspect he may move on sooner rather than later. The same probably applies to Brad Guzan.

TSG: What’s the general perception of Houllier’s reign thus far?

Timothy Abraham: The reviews on Gerard Houllier’s short tenure have been mixed. His development of young talent and commitment to play more aesthetically pleasing football than previous manager Martin O’Neill have been appluaded by a lot of fans.

However, there have been some PR gaffes which has alienated sections of the fanbase. Not least his comments after the defeat against Liverpool (although they were taken out of context) and in particular the decision to field a weakened side in the FA Cup against Manchester City which really angered supporters. Houllier has perhaps been guilty of trying to change too much at Villa at once when he should have waited until the summer to make sweeping changes.


A Murky Outlook for American Keepers At Villa

This is the second guest column by Preston Petri

Gerard Houllier, contemplating changes in front of the mesh at Villa Park...while higher-ups likely contemplate his...

Recently, Aston Villa of the Barclays Premier League have followed in the footsteps of the old Fullhamerica teams by integrating former and current USMNT players into their first team fold. There’s been a lot of talk and praise for the young American defender Eric Lichaj, who has recently been thrown into his first ever two Premier League starts. Its exciting for most USMNT fans to see a young prospect in a right back position which desperately needs a future in Bob Bradley’s side, however one of the most debated positions at Aston Villa, also happens to encompass a couple of Yanks.

Brad Friedel and Brad Guzan, or Big Brad and Little Brad, as they are referred to in the Villa circles, have been the top two goalkeepers at the club for over two seasons, with each of them putting in some impressive as well and forgettable performances. However with Villa in such a terrible run of form as of late, every position, including the goalkeeper has been put under scrutiny by fans and critics alike.

Whereas American fans could always count on an American being between the sticks when they turned on a Villa match on the tube, it appears those days (along with at least one of the Brad’s) may be numbered.

For weeks some fans have been calling for Friedel’s number one jersey to be passed to his fellow Yank understudy in Guzan, but for every fan calling for Friedel’s head, there is another just waiting to go on about how inexperienced Guzan is. It has become quite the debate on Villa fan sites, and now with the January transfer window opening and rumors and speculation flowing about, the debate has expanded.

Complicating matters further is Brad Guzan’s one-month loan to Hull City of the Championship for just a single month’s time—perhaps a lease with the option to buy–and a buzzing undercurrent that much maligned Villa skipper Gerard Houllier is poised to secure a keeper in the January window.

The netminder that has been most consistently linked to a relocation package with to Aston Villa is Rangers keeper Alan McGregor. McGregor, who of course is a teammate with USMNT midfielder Maurice Edu, has been impressive in recent seasons and quite naturally is getting looks at by English clubs. It certainly isn’t a debate that can be settled in a day, or an article for that matter, however let’s take a look at all three options. (assuming McGregor is a realistic transfer target for Gerard Houllier and Aston Villa)

Friedel, looking over his shoulder for oncoming keepers on Trinity Road?

Brad Friedel

Big Brad has been an ever present in the Aston Villa lineup ever since he and Guzan arrived there in the summer of 2008. In Brad’s first Premier League campaign with Villa, he was arguably their player of the season, starting all 38 of their matches, collecting 13 clean sheets and making 124 saves, while Guzan rode the pine with the occasional start in a non league match. The next season (2009/2010) Big Brad continued his impressive displays by again starting all 38 Premier League matches and making 126 saves while raising his clean sheet tally to 15. Guzan again rode the pine in every league match, and featured only in cup matches. You could perhaps make an argument that the Villa defense that season, which ranked second behind Chelsea for the majority of the year, helped make Brad look better, however defensive organization starts with the goalkeeper, and Friedel is one of the best.

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In Good Hands With Guzan

Most have probably heard of Brad Guzan’s heroics in goal earlier this week for Villa versus Sunderland in the Carling Cup, but have you seen it?

The back-up to Tim Howard for the USMNT stopped 4 PKs (1 in regular time, 3 in a shootout) and had a couple more highlight reel saves.

To quote Aston Villa Skipper Martin O’Neill, “He was immense.”

If only the USMNT could trade some of that GK depth…


Vodpod videos no longer available.

(via No Short Corners)


EPL Week 3: Now We’re Rolling

"Hey TSG, if I get into the EPL can you throw some press my way?" Damn right Jay!

"Hey TSG, if I get into the EPL can you throw some love my way?" Sure Jay!

(As last week, each Thursday we’ll try to give you our insights on the English Premier League primarily and other global leagues with analogies and dialogue favoring Americans Abroad.)

Wow, we’re at week 3 already in the EPL. This is the week that you discover if data points from the first two week are part of a growing trend or if they are put out to pasture as isolated instances.

Let’s get right to it.

ESPN’s Saturday Game of the Week: Chelsea vs. Burnley

Chelsea is coming off a convincing away win against Fullham at Craven Cottage after clubbings of Hull and Sunderland to start the term. Nice segway here in that Burnley have proven to be 2009 version of 2008 Hull City Tigers who took the EPL by storm and we’re sitting in the top half of the Premiership through December of last year. Burnley can boast wins over two of last year’s top five teams in “Premiership champ” (they should just make that their official nickname now) Manchester United and Everton. Admittedly Everton was in disarray, but nonetheless impressive wins for the recently promoted squad.

I think Chelsea will keep the duo of Anelka and Drogba up top so they can continue forming their partnership, it’s possible you may see Kalou given a start though and also see munchkin Deco as well.

Here’s how I would watch this game. Tune in for the first 15 minutes and get a read on the game. If it’s back-and-forth, grab your oatmeal. If Chelsea looks dominant, check back in at the 30 minute mark of the 2nd half. If Chelsea are not on top by more than 1-0, you’ll know Burnley are for real and the next 15 minutes or so will merit a look-see.

The first heavyweight fight of the season: Manchester United vs. Arsenal (on FSC, 9:30 PST I believe)

Now, this is the game you want watch. Arsenal visiting Old Trafford. Arsene Wenger’s squad has been lights out to start the season, raking both Everton and Portsmouth over the coals the past two weeks. However, they are facing a renewed Red Devil squad after their 2nd half massacring of Wigan last week. If not for that 2nd half, I think you would have had a completely different storyline coming into this week of Man U’s season on the ropes or endless discussion on Ronaldo’s absence. (Alas, Rooney was near the equal of Ronaldo from a focal point perspective).

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