Brad Guzan, like many goalkeepers, can divide opinion at times. When he makes a jaw-dropping reaction save, you pray that you’re lucky enough to have him between the sticks. When he’s caught flat-footed on a shot from range, you curse his name. That’s the life of a goalkeeper.
But you can get used to seeing Guzan’s shiny dome in goal next year and beyond, as the former Premier League man signed an extension ahead of the 2020 season that should keep him wearing five stripes on his chest through 2023. Let’s break down how his 2020 year played out.
Games Played: 23 (all starts)
Goals allowed: 30
What went right this season?
As someone who witnessed your player ratings every week (and couldn’t stomach the tedium of posting them down the stretch... contact me if you want them) Guzan was consistently rated pretty highly by the community barring the games where he made an error that costed a goal. It was actually in the midst of some of Atlanta’s worst stretches where Guzan prevented games from becoming laughers with some of his trademark reaction saves and shot-stopping. For as poor as Atlanta’s season has been and despite Guzan making some noticeable errors, he actually played decently more often than not. Lets remember that for all his flaws, Atlanta United won a league title with Guz. He may not be the best keeper in the league, but he’s far from being detrimental to a beleaguered side this past season.
What does he need to improve on?
Yes, Guzan was caught flat-footed and conceded some of the uglier goals of his Atlanta United tenure in 2020, but those things tend to happen when the other 20 players on the pitch are out of sorts and largely reliant on keeping a clean sheet to get a result. For all the rightful criticism of Guzan’s footwork at times during the season, it’s not like he suddenly dropped off a cliff in this department during an offseason.
Where Guzan can definitely improve is in his distribution with his feet. He’s a good thrower and generally has a good feel for when he can push the team on a counter attack after a save. But when the team is in possession and the ball is played back to him from a center back, he must improve on connecting with the fullbacks in space near the touchline.
What role will he play in 2021?
While obviously retaining his starting spot, the real role Guzan will play in 2021 will be as one of the vocal team leaders. It’s likely that one of his veteran domestic teammates in Jeff Larentowicz will retire, leaving Guzan as one of the leading voices in dressing room. Coming from the the Premier League, he’s always been one of the more respected voices in the dressing room and in the media. Next year he’ll have a big role in helping the team turn the page and coming together for a successful turnaround campaign.