US national team, World Cup player profile: Brad Guzan

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The life of a second-choice goalkeeper is never easy, but Brad Guzan takes things in stride, and if Tim Howard is a model for consistency, then Guzan isn’t far behind, if at all.

A Premier League success story as well, the 29-year-old has entrenched himself at Aston Villa after getting his start at the Chicago Fire and Chivas USA, and has done quite a good job in England.

With Howard’s physical style of play when stopping one-on-one situations, Guzan has been called upon in just about every possible situation that could arise.  He filled in when Howard racked up yellow cards, Guzan was there to plug the dyke in a 2-2 draw with Guatemala in qualifying for the 2010 World Cup.  Guzan took charge during a back injury to the starter, not allowing a goal to the dangerous pair of Costa Rica and Mexico just last year.

While on rare occasions Guzan can find himself a bit out of position, his goalkeeping skills are well-rounded, and he has a rare strength in the distribution category, miraculously earning himself an assist to Andreas Weimann in Premier League play last September.

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Full name: Bradley Edwin Guzan

Age: 29

Hometown: Evergreen Park, Illinois

Position: Goalkeeper

Caps/goals: 24/0

Club: Aston Villa

Best moment in a US shirt: Like Howard, Guzan’s consistency in goal mark his value to the USMNT much more than individual moments of brilliance.  However, that said, Guzan’s performance in the historic 0-0 draw with Mexico at Estadio Azteca in March has to rank among his best achievements with the United States.  Peppered with shots late after the American attack had long since died down, Guzan was undeterred and acrobatically helped the US earn its second-ever point in World Cup qualifying at the Azteca.

Starter or squad player at World Cup? Unless something happens to Tim Howard, the shirt is his, but Guzan will be more than ready to take over should the lead man get injured or sent off.  With Howard’s age, it’s definitely a possibility that eventually he hands the first-choice position over to Guzan, but for now, Tim is the man and Guzan will back him up.

Report: Man City, Guardiola to discuss new contract this summer

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Manchester City does not want to let Pep Guardiola start the third year with the club without signing on for longer term.

Guardiola enters the third and final year of his deal in August, and the BBC reports that Man City plans to negotiate a new deal with the Catalan wizard this summer.

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This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise given City’s outstanding sophomore season under Guardiola.

Unbeaten City has an 11-point lead on the Premier League table after 18 weeks, with one draw and a PL record 16-straight wins. They have 56 goals scored, conceding just 12.

They’ve won five of six UEFA Champions League matches, only losing a match their opposition needed and they did not, 2-1 to Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine. City faces Basel next, and visits Leicester City in the League Cup quarterfinals Wednesday.

Lanzini charged by FA for fooling ref with dive

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Manuel Lanzini dove to earn a penalty in West Ham’s 3-0 win over Stoke City on Saturday at the bet365 Stadium, and he may pay for it.

Lanzini, who also posted an assist in an influential performance, drew the penalty converted by Mark Noble when he hit the deck under minimal contact from Erik Pieters.

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He could miss two matches for “successful deception of a match official,” the same penalty given to Everton’s Oumar Niasse for a similar offense.

West Ham pulled out of the drop zone with the win, but has three bottom-half battles coming up over the festive fixtures: Saturday versus Newcastle, Dec. 26 at Bournemouth, and Jan. 2 versus West Brom.

Griezmann backtracks over ‘insensitive’ blackface tweet

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MADRID (AP) Soccer star Antoine Griezmann has apologized for any offense caused after posting an image of himself on social media in blackface as part of an NBA party costume on Sunday.

Griezmann, who is white, was also wearing a wig and holding a basketball in the photo which had “NBA 69 ALLSTARS” on the jersey.

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The photo on his official Twitter account was accompanied by the message “80’s Party” followed by basketball and laughing emojis.

One response called the photo a “bad idea” with others urging the France forward to delete the tweet.

Griezmann at first reacted to the criticism by tweeting: “Calm down friends, I’m a fan of the Harlem Globetrotters and of this great era… It’s a tribute.”

He later tweeted an apology to those he had offended.

“I recognize that’s it’s insensitive on my part. If I offended some people I’m sorry,” he wrote.

The 26-year-old Griezmann plays for Spanish team Atletico Madrid but has been linked to a move to Barcelona.

Alex Morgan named CONCACAF Female POY, Navas wins Male POY

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CONCACAF awarded some of its finest players and coaches on Sunday night, and two familiar faces took home the evening’s most notable awards.

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U.S. Women’s National Team forward Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride) and Keylor Navas of Costa Rica and Real Madrid each earned Female and Male Player of the Year honors, after boasting tremendous 2017 seasons.

Morgan who primarily plays for Orlando in the NWSL, was also a member of Lyon, who went on to win the Women’s Champions League this past season.

Navas, on the other hand, played a key role in Real Madrid’s UEFA Champions League run, as well as Los Blancos’ La Liga title.

For Morgan, the award is her third since CONCACAF began handing out its annual awards in 2013. Meanwhile, Navas has now won Male Player of the Year on two occasions.