U.S. U23 GK Horvath earns praise

U.S. U23 goalkeeper Ethan Horvath (pictured) is making a name for himself in Europe with Norway's Molde. (Photo: Mexsport)

COMMERCE CITY, Colorado – The United States’ ability to produce top quality goalkeepers, who have earned starting roles with European clubs, has been clearly documented.

From Kasey Keller to Brad Friedel to Tim Howard and now Brad Guzan, there’s been a succession of successful American custodians with long-term careers at the highest level.

Though only 20-years-old and not yet as widely known as his predecessors, Ethan Horvath could be the next netminder to join that line of luminaries.

Earlier this year, Horvath earned a starting position with Norwegian champion Molde. In the last 10 days alone, he has played in the UEFA Europa League, the domestic league and the CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship (CMOQ).

He linked up with the U.S. under-23 squad after it had already competed in two CMOQ games – both wins – with the highly-regarded Zack Steffen in goal. Steffen was first choice during a run to the FIFA U-20 World Cup quarterfinals in June.

After 14 hours of travel to Colorado – where he grew up -- Horvath was happy to be part of the USA’s 4-0 win over Panama in the Group B finale.

“I’m really excited to be here,” he said. “It was a very special moment for myself and for my family because my mom and dad sacrificed two years of their lives to come over to Norway and help me out, to make my dream come true.

“It was even better to get the clean sheet for them.”

Horvath made news on October 1, when he helped Molde to a 1-1 draw in Europa League with visiting Ajax, a performance that earned the public praise of former Holland legend Edwin van der Sar.

"He has every reason to be pleased with himself," van der Sar, a Champions League winner with Ajax and Manchester United, was quoted as saying. "One can see that he is ambitious and talented. He can use these matches in Europe to make his mark. Matches in the Europa League are also opportunities to show yourself to a larger audience."

Those words meant a lot to Horvath, who remarked: “To be honest, you know, [I’m] kind of like speechless. When you first look at it, it’s kind of like, ‘did he really say that about me.’ To be honest, you know, I think he’s one of the best ‘keepers that have ever played the game. Coming from a legend like him is unbelievable.”

Regardless of whether Horvath or Steffen gets the nod against Honduras in Saturday’s CMOQ semifinal, U.S. head coach Andreas Herzog knows his team will be well protected.

“Last week, he (Horvath) was in the Best XI in the Europa League. I know that he’s a tremendous talent,” the former Austria international said about a potential starter. “Zack Steffen is a really good goalkeeper. We have Charlie Horton, so we have a lot of very good goalkeepers. We will see. We will make the decision. I mean Zack had two very good games. He had a great save against Cuba, when we were 1-0 up. That (the goalkeeper position) is not a problem for us.”