USA’s Guzan returns home for Copa business

USA's Brad Guzan (pictured) was the Golden Glove winner at the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup. (Photo: Mexsport)

CHICAGO – United States goalkeeper Brad Guzan is back home in Chicago, but he has no time for a family reunion.

You could say that’s he’s on a business trip, just not a typical one.

His work will take place in front of tens of thousands at Soldier Field and be watched by millions on television Tuesday night, when the U.S. (0W-0D-1L, 0 points) meets Costa Rica (0-1-0, 1) in a key Copa America Centenario encounter.

“It’s always nice to come back home,” said Guzan on Monday. “Soldier Field, obviously, we’ve had some good success here with the national team. Hopefully, we can repeat that tomorrow night.”

That success is well documented, with the Americans lifting the CONCACAF Gold Cup trophy twice at the famous venue, overcoming Mexico (2-1) and Panama (1-0) in the 2007 and 2013 finals, respectively.

The fact that Costa Rica has won the last two meetings between the sides adds an extra sense of urgency to the U.S. cause. If the Americans lose again, they will exit the competition with a game to play, since two teams in Group A will have four points by the end of the Colombia (1-0-0, 3)-Paraguay (0-1-0, 1) contest later in the evening.

“We know it’s a big game; there’s no denying that,” Guzan remarked. “We know it’s an important game. As professionals, these are the games you want to be a part of.”

A big factor in the USA’s favor is that it has never lost to Costa Rica in seven all-time Gold Cup matches, posting a 6-1-0 record, conceding only five goals. All those meetings took place in the U.S., just like the upcoming one.

“We’ve played them, obviously, a few times,” commented Guzan. “We know the types of players they have, the dangerous players they have. It’s going to be a challenge tomorrow night because of everything that’s at stake.”

The five-time Gold Cup champion finds itself in this precarious position due a 2-0 loss to Colombia in Friday’s opener. The South Americans netted off a corner kick and a penalty kick.

Guzan believes that if the U.S. can get on track offensively and tighten up defensively, three big points can be the reward.

“Against Colombia, we created chances,” the 31-year-old stressed. “Obviously, at the end of the day, it’s two set-piece goals, but we know we can be stronger defensively and we have to take our chances tomorrow night. We all can be better in all areas of the field.”

The pressure is clearly on the home side to remain in Copa contention and the need to do so against a CONCACAF rival makes the scenario even more intriguing.

“It’s pressure, one, every time you wear the shirt, and, two, every time you step on the field,” finished Guzan. “There’s always extra spice whenever you play any CONCACAF team. They’re always intense, they’re physical, there’s battles all over the pitch.”

Just another day at the office for Guzan.