While Atlanta United (and MLS) fans will have to wait a few months to see him, Brad Guzan is a key acquisition for the expansion club. The Middlesborough FC goalkeeper officially signed a pre-contract with AUFC and will join them this summer at the end of the Premier League season.
Middlesborough have been struggling this year in league play (sitting four points clear of relegation). But Guzan has only appeared in three matches - recording two clean sheets - and the presence of Victor Valdes as the club’s primary goalkeeper has made the 32-year-old expendable. He now has the opportunity to make a fresh start with an expansion MLS side and play in front of American fans on a weekly basis.
For better or worse, Guzan is a name that United States soccer fans will readily recognize from his time with the U.S. men’s national team serving as Tim Howard’s backup. He obviously won’t be a extremely long-term solution (he’s 32), but he will bring domestic and international experience to the table when he comes to Atlanta this summer. The organization is making the right moves to build a strong defense in front of the goal (the pending addition of Leandro Gonzalez Pirez and recent signing of Tyrone Mears makes it that much stronger), so if that group can live up to their overall potential, this acquisition could turn out to be a good one.
What will Atlanta United do in the interim while they wait for Guzan to arrive? They currently have three keepers on their roster: Alex Kapp, Alec Kann, and Alexander Tambakis. I’d expect to see Kann get the lion’s share of the time in net out of the gate with Tambakis figuring heavily into the rotation, but with Darren Eales stating that all positions are wide open for the most part in training camp, we’ll have to see how exactly that plays out. Kann was prone to lay an egg or two as the backup at Sporting KC last year (example: allowing three goals on four shots in a 3-0 loss at Portland), but with a strong backline taking shape, Tata Martino will have to lean on them to keep Kann’s workload to a minimum.
Hopefully Guzan can shake off a shaky past few years and take his place as a cornerstone player for Atlanta United. But with the defense that’s forming in front of him (or whoever sees the most minutes in goal before his arrival), the club projects to be in pretty good shape.