Brad Guzan was easily the busiest player in MLS this season, starting and finishing 46 of Atlanta United’s 47 games (the only one he missed was the first US Open Cup game against the Charleston Battery). He made the most of it.
Games played: 46 appearances, 46 starts (all competitions)
Clean sheets: 20
What went right this season?
Racking up 20 clean sheets, almost half the games he played, is a remarkable achievement. Of those, 14 were in the MLS regular season, good for 3rd all time, and tied for most wins by clean sheet. At the same time, he acted as captain in numerous games, leading the game expertly from the back as the wily veteran that he is. Brad is a commanding presence on the field under any circumstances and knows well how to direct his defense. He also has a habit of making highlight reel saves, especially with his feet.
What does he need to improve on?
Among the 23 keepers who played at least 20 regular season games (that’s every team’s starting keeper except the Columbus Crew, who lost Zack Steffen in mid-season and replaced him with 3 other guys), he ranked 9th in saves, 10th in saves per shot and 7th in goals against per game. Considering the 14 clean sheets and that he only faced a shot every 22.7 minutes (3rd fewest in the league), those numbers aren’t as good as they might be. When Atlanta allowed goals, they allowed them in bunches.
Of course, it’s hard to blame a keeper exclusively for the goals scored against him, and in Brad’s case more than a few of them were clearly the fault of mistakes on the back line. However, he is also prone to the occasional howler himself, whether it be an error in positioning, or an ill-advised choice to punch rather than gather the ball. And that’s in the nature of goalkeeping: when you look bad, you look really bad. Still, that’s evidence that even at 35 there’s always stuff you can learn.
What will his role be in 2020?
Almost certainly unchanged. He’s still got a few good years in him, and as of right now there isn’t an obvious top-notch successor. With all due respect to Alec Kann, the current #2, Brad really doesn’t have much competition for the starting spot right now.
Overall Grade: A