Born in the USA and made great in the high-octane atmosphere of the English game.
It began with Kasey Keller who dared tread where no one had gone before when he moved across the pond to the east end of London and the hostile environment of Millwall in 1992. With the door pushed open, Brad Friedel, was next to take the plunge signing for Liverpool in 1997 before really establishing himself with Blackburn Rovers. Tim Howard literally smashed the door off its hinges when he walked through the doors of Old Trafford and Manchester United in 2003 and now Brad Guzan follows that lineage at Aston Villa where he has patiently waited for the opportunity to shine.
The English game is based on power and physicality and American goalkeepers have simply thrived. It’s as though the steady diet of crosses, long balls and rampaging center forwards is meat and drink for the Yanks. It has certainly benefited the USMNT who have relied on English based goalkeepers for the last four World Cups. Tony Meola was the last home based keeper during USA WC’94.
Every match in England matters and the scrutiny from the press, fans, opponents is intense. You can never take a day off and the by-product of this, is excellence and the performances of these four men bare that out.
It has been said that Americans excel`in this position due to the nature of other US sports that require a high degree of eye-hand coordination. Throwball (NFL), baseball and basketball are played and viewed on TV from such a young age that the sports are learnt almost by osmosis.
Whatever the secret is, American goalkeepers are consistently the most wanted stateside players from football clubs around the world.