Brad Guzan - USMNT - close up

Brad Guzan is reportedly weighing a possible return to MLS, with FourFourTwo’s Paul Tenorio reporting on Thursday that the US national team goalkeeper, who is struggling for playing time at English Premier League club Middlesbrough, is considering coming back to the States in the January transfer window.


Guzan, 32, has appeared in just two EPL matches this season for Middlesbrough, where he moved this summer after longtime club Aston Villa were relegated to the English Championship after last season.


The former Chivas USA goalkeeper started for the US at this summer’s Copa America Centenario, but began the US’s recent World Cup qualifier against Mexico as the backup to Tim Howard. Guzan saw action against Mexico and started the subsequent loss against Costa Rica after Howard suffered an injury that will keep him out for several months. But he’ll need to find regular playing time if he wants to truly be in contention for the USMNT’s starting job when qualifying resumes in March.


If Guzan returns to MLS, he’d go through the league’s allocation order. Chicago currently hold the top spot on the list, though incoming expansion teams Atlanta and Minnesota will take over the first and second spots, respectively, when the new league year begins on Dec. 11, the day after MLS Cup. The team with the first spot in the allocation rank have top priority to acquire a player on the league’s allocation ranking list.


Where in MLS would Guzan be a good fit? Let’s start with his hometown club…


1. Chicago Fire


With Sean Johnson set to be traded to Atlanta, the Fire will soon have a hole to fill in net. Guzan, who grew up in Homer Glen, Illinois, about 30 minutes from Toyota Park, would make a ton of sense as a replacement. The local boy would be an upgrade in goal for a Fire defense that had a rough go of it last year, and would bring some much-needed cachet to a club that’s endured a rough seven seasons.


Given their local tie, open DP slots, abundance of allocation money and the fact that they’ll remain in third in the league’s allocation order even after the start of the new league year, the Fire have a very feasible path to landing Guzan. We’ll see if they make a run at him.


2. New York City FC


NYCFC have attacking stars, spending power and all the glitz, glam and visibility that goes along with being one of MLS’s biggest clubs. What they’re missing? A reliable defense and goalkeeper.


NYCFC have been a sieve at the back in both of their first two seasons, conceding a league-high 58 goals in 2015 before giving up 57 in 2016, fourth most in MLS. Guzan would be a big help in shoring that up and, with Frank Lampard gone, NYCFC have some cash available. We'll see if they use it on a 'keeper or try to acquire a cheaper option from within the league. 


3. Minnesota United FC


Minnesota need a goalkeeper and likely wouldn’t have any trouble acquiring the top spot in the allocation ranking (they could swap their No. 2 spot for Atlanta’s No. 1, with Atlanta then moving back up to No. 1 after Minnesota used the spot), but I’m not sure United would want to splash the cash it’d take to land Guzan.


Minnesota have been very tight-lipped about the types of players they’re targeting and, with so many spots to fill on their roster, I don’t know that they’ll be too eager to shell out big dollars for a goalkeeper, especially when several starting-level backstops will likely be available in the Expansion Draft.


4. Columbus Crew SC


Columbus’ Steve Clark era appears to be over, as the club recently announced that they declined the 2017 contract option on the veteran ‘keeper. They do have two goalkeepers on the roster in Brad Stuver and Zack Steffen, a promising youngster who was acquired last July.


I’d be mildly surprised if Gregg Berhalter is ready to hand the starting gig to either of those two, however. They could certainly use Guzan, but, like Minnesota, I’m not sure Crew SC would want to pay the transfer fee and salary it’d take to land him. Making a move in the trade market for a player like Colorado’s Zac MacMath would seem to make more sense for Columbus.