FRISCO, Tex. – Against their toughest opponent during their three-game tune-up schedule before the Copa America Centenario kicks off next month, the US national team were able to secure a clean sheet in a 1-0 friendly win over Ecuador on Wednesday – goalkeeper Brad Guzan’s 11th all-time for his country.
“It’s an added bonus,” Guzan said after the game of the shutout. “We know it’s going to be a difficult tournament, [and] we know we’re going up against really good teams with really good players. Tonight was a taste of what we’re probably going to experience in the next couple of weeks, so it was good not only to get a clean sheet, but it was really important in getting a result.”
Guzan said the defenders in front of him, led by John Brooks, DeAndre Yedlin and Steve Birnbaum, consistently blocked shots and made last-minute tackles to prevent Ecuador from creating quality opportunities against him.
The visitors only registered three official shots on the night, and only one of them was on goal.
“Give credit to them – [Ecuador] didn’t really create a whole lot, and that was a testament to the work rate of the guys in front of me,” Guzan said. “The times they got through, we were able to clean things up. That’s all you can ask.”
Guzan also made note of the warm temperature in Frisco and how it may have slowed the pace down as the game went on, potentially factoring into a less-potent Ecuadorian attack as the match unfolded.
But regardless of how realistic the friendly was in terms of projecting forward to the Copa America, head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said shutting out an opponent is huge for a ‘keeper’s psyche.
“Confidence means everything to every player, especially as a goalkeeper,” Klinsmann said. “As a goalkeeper, if you concede goals, you get blamed. And if you make mistakes, you cannot make many mistakes. So it’s a good feeling for Brad that he started this period now positively.”
Klinsmann was particularly impressed with Guzan and company’s clean sheet given how recently they came off their club seasons overseas, including a tough season for the goalkeeper at Aston Villa, which was relegated from the English Premier League.
“It’ll take him a couple of days to shake off the entire season they played in Europe or Mexico,” Klinsmann said. “They went through a lot of games for a long grind, so now just to detach themselves from what was a very tough one for Brad with Aston Villa -- give him a few days to just leave that aside and grow into his team here and into Copa America.”
And even though the game doesn’t count for anything in the standings, he understands how valuable earning a victory is against a quality team that has had the Yanks’ number in the past.
“It’s important to get results when we play these games,” Guzan said. “Whenever we step on the field, we want to win. We want to try and put together a good performance. And for the most part, I thought we did that tonight.”