Could Brad Guzan be on the cusp of a move to Major League Soccer? That’s the word from a Four Four Two report citing unnamed sources, and it doesn’t seem like that bad of a move for the U.S. national team goalkeeper. He is riding the bench at Middlesbrough and he needs to move to a club where he can get consistent playing time. On top of that, with Bruce Arena taking over as the USMNT coach, there’s seemingly less of an anti-MLS bias when it comes to fighting for spots on the national team.
The 32-year-old Guzan could be due for a big payday in MLS thanks to his role on the USMNT, and the timing looks to be right. But where would he go? We explore the best options for Guzan.
USA Today SportsGreg Bartram
The Chicago Fire
If there’s any team in MLS that could use some sort of a big move to shake things up, it is the Chicago Fire. They’ve been last in the league two years running and fans in the Windy City desperately need something to be excited about. It seems that Chicago is trying to acquire some star power though. They’ve already reportedly extended a pricey offer to midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger and they appear keen to make up for missing out on Jermaine Jones and Didier Drogba. As a USMNT starter, Guzan could be the sort of name they are looking for; not to mention Guzan is from Illinois.
That would almost surely mean getting rid of either Sean Johnson or Matt Lampson, but that probably won’t be difficult. Fire coach Veljko Paunovic seemed unsettled of who deserved the starting spot, benching Johnson, a player with USMNT caps, in favor of Lampson, who had limited professional experience. Now, rumors are emerging that Johnson will go to Atlanta United, and it’s hardly a surprise. The Fire goalkeeper spot is ripe for someone to come in and take over.
Real Salt Lake
Nick Rimando is a great goalkeeper. There’s no question about that. But he is also 37 years old and Real Salt Lake looks poised to move on from their aging core of players. They’ve already seen the departure of Javier Morales, the 36-year-old who was the heart of their midfield, and after a disappointing couple of seasons, they may be ready for a roster re-build or at least building the depth to get their transition plan ready.
The club also has a lack of marketable stars. Whether Guzan is as marketable as, say, Tim Howard is debatable (Guzan hasn’t earned a catchy nickname like the “Secretary of Defense”) but he has played a key role for the USMNT, including as the starting goalkeeper during Copa America.
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY SpoVincent Carchietta
New York City FC
While they made a pretty good run into the playoffs as a second-year franchise, their goalkeeper spot seems far from settled. Josh Saunders was their starting goalkeeper all year, but coach Patrick Vieira thought it best to begin starting Eirik Johansen just as playoffs arrived. Saunders was a bit error prone, but it was an unusual decision, to be sure, and not one that paid off in any sort of tangible way.
Guzan will almost surely be a Designated Player-level signing if he does come to MLS, and it’s questionable as to whether NYCFC would use the spot for a goalkeeper. In the club’s short history, they have used their DP spots for international stars and stars who can score goals, at that. Still, it wouldn’t be the worst move if they went after a DP goalkeeper.
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The Portland Timbers
Guzan may come at a higher price tag than the Timbers may be interested in paying for a goalkeeper. The Timbers happily got rid of Adam Kwarasey, who made somewhere north of $300,000, after Jake Gleeson did well filling in during a Kwarasey injury this year — and Gleeson’s salary was a third of the then-starter. Gleeson has been a solid shot-stopper behind a back line that struggled much of 2016, but the Timbers do lack much-needed goalkeeper depth.
They could bring Guzan in as a starter and return Gleeson to a bench role. They will have some cap space cleared up now that they are a year removed from the bonuses they paid players for winning the MLS Cup, and they will have more allocation money for missing the playoffs. The Timbers don’t have a reputation of going after big stars and they don’t really need to do anything to boost ticket sales, but they could want to show fans they are taking their roster re-build seriously after a dismal 2016.
The LA Galaxy
With Bruce Arena out to take the reins of the USMNT and no new coach lined up in LA, the Galaxy are a bit of a wildcard right now. The direction of the club will remain murky until they name their new coaching staff, so it’s hard to say what the club will do, especially in light of the roster turnover that has already happened. They have spots to fill and goalkeeper is clearly not at the top of the list.
But the Galaxy have never been a club to shy away from big signings. They have the deep pockets and the ambitions to go for a player if they think he’s worth it. Brian Rowe has been a solid starter, but he could turn into a quality back-up.
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The Philadelphia Union
Andre Blake was one of the best goalkeepers in MLS this year, but there’s nothing wrong with a little depth. And hey, it wouldn’t be the first time the Union made a goalkeeper decision that didn’t make any sense. (We’re sorry to bring up the Raïs M’Bolhi debacle of 2014-15. That was cruel.)