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Is it time for Atlanta United to move on from Brad Guzan?

A tough decision may need to be made.

MLS: FC Cincinnati at Atlanta United FC Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

A trip down memory lane

Since the Five Stripes joined Major League Soccer in 2017, goalkeeper Brad Guzan has a cornerstone for the franchise. The 38-year-old has come up in big moments for Atlanta and has been influential in helping his side build out from the back. Guzan was there in the games at Bobby-Dodd Stadium before the move to the Benz.

Guzan has made 174 appearances in all competitions for Atlanta and has kept 64 clean sheets.

The former USMNT No. 1 was in between the sticks in Atlanta United’s 2018 MLS Cup win as well as their capture of the 2019 U.S. Open Cup.

Whenever Guzan pulls out a show-stopping save or collects the ball, fans are quick to shout in unison “GUUUUUUUZ.”

Guzan has become an icon for Atlanta and has played a huge part in the club’s young history. But is it time for Atlanta to make a change in goal?

His recent form should not be overlooked

Despite being a mainstay in the starting eleven when fit, his decline in form over the past few seasons and his recent injury woes should not be overlooked. His ability to lead the squad and pull everyone together shouldn’t go unnoticed, but that might not be enough for him to be kept around.

Guzan’s ability to distribute the ball across the pitch at a successful rate has kept him in the starting XI since 2017. But as a goalkeeper, having strong reflexes and being able to consistently steer shots away from goal are a must-have. I don’t think we can confidently say that Guzan has done that on a consistent basis in the last few seasons.

The latest game against the New England Revolution highlighted this area of concern. His communication with the defense is something that Atlanta United missed when he was out through injury. But Atlanta has conceded the second-most goals in MLS (Guzan has conceded 14 goals in nine games). Not only was the mistake that led to the opening goal catastrophic, but Guzan probably should’ve saved the 93’ goal by Carles Gil that saw him beat at his near post.

That has become a familiar sight in Atlanta, opposing teams scoring goals that they probably shouldn’t. Now, Guzan is not the sole reason for Atlanta conceding the second-most goals in the league. But he also isn’t the solution to fixing the defense.

His poor performance against the Revs wasn’t a one-off thing, either. The writing has been on the wall regarding Guzan’s inability to make top-drawer saves.

Guzan signed a contract extension in 2020 that is guaranteed to run through 2023. However, the club’s official salary info with option years included says they have contractual control over the goalkeeper until 2025. This leads us to believe they’ll have a difficult decision on whether to keep him or not this winter. Guzan may end up signing for another MLS side or he could retire as an Atlanta United legend. But keeping him in between the sticks past the 2023 season would more than likely hinder their chances of rebuilding properly and wouldn’t go over well with the fanbase.