EAST HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT — In a match where US goalkeeper Brad Guzan looked very comfortable his clean sheet was undone by a blocked sightline from teammate Tim Ream and an awkward shot from Ecuador striker Enner Valencia.
“Nine times out of ten that [shot] gets blocked or you make a save but tonight that wasn’t to be,” Guzan said following the match. “To be fair, I couldn’t see it come off [Valencia’s] foot. It came over the top of [Ream] and as soon as it came over it was constantly leaving me.”
Leaving Guzan it certainly was, as the shot dipped so viciously over Ream’s head it looked like an obvious deflection. But that wasn’t the case, with Guzan believing that Valencia probably mis-hit it a bit. For Guzan, who was sure-handed throughout the night making six saves, it was a case of justice not being served as he sought to stake his claim as top-choice keeper with Tim Howard on international sabbatical.
Frustrated by his side’s second-half drop off, Guzan chalked the lukewarm performance up to the US entering a new cycle in international play and sitting back a little too much.
“It’s always a challenge when you come together as a national team,” Guzan explained. “It’s a new cycle, there’s a lot of new guys constantly coming in and Jurgen’s making changes so it’s just something you have to adapt to.”
“You look at the second half in general and I think we defended for too long. We stopped trying to play and connect passes. I think at times we were a bit too sloppy with the ball, we gave it away cheaply. Ultimately, when you play good teams you can’t do that. You have to be able to maintain possession and make them defend. And in the second half I felt like we struggled to do that but that’s to be expected, there’s growing pains when you get together for the start of a new cycle.”
Despite the new faces in new places, however, Guzan appeared happy with the performance of the defenders in front of him, noting that the center-back combination of John Brooks and Michael Orozco looked good together while new-boy Greg Garza enjoyed “a lot of positives [and] has an exciting future ahead of him.”