Insider Notes: Brad Guzan's standing at Aston Villa; F. Johnson nears UCL
Brad Guzan has been on the bench for the past two league games at Aston Villa after manager Tim Sherwood sat him following his mistake that led to a goal against Man City. Villa is in good shape to avoid relegation, but the question now is about Guzan’s future at the club with Sherwood in charge.
I’m told that Sherwood has begun making inquiries about acquiring a goalkeeper for next season, and if he doesn’t rate Guzan as a starter, there’s a chance the U.S. keeper could move elsewhere.
Guzan is currently the USA's No. 1 goalkeeper heading into this summer's CONCACAF Gold Cup. Tim Howard is on hiatus until the fall, when he plans on returning to international play.
In other U.S. Soccer notes:
F. Johnson closes in on Champions League
U.S. fullback Fabian Johnson is having the best European league season of any American player. His Borussia Moenchengladbach needs just two points in its last two league games to clinch a spot in the Champions League group stage for next season.
What’s more, Gladbach is undefeated in the league during Johnson’s 14 starts. I spoke to Johnson, who said he had an adjustment process to his new club at first, but he now feels extremely comfortable with the way Gladbach plays and his position there as a left midfielder. At this point, Johnson could be the only U.S. player in the Champions League group stage next season.
Johnston seizes chance with USWNT
The U.S.'s Julie Johnston is one of the best stories of the upcoming Women's World Cup.
Johnston wasn't even on the original roster for last fall's qualifying tournament, but an injury to Crystal Dunn allowed her to be called in. Then injuries to Christie Rampone and Whitney Engen gave Johnston a chance at Algarve Cup, and now she's a starting center back who's scored in her last three games. I spoke to Johnston, who gave a lot of credit to teammate Carli Lloyd for inviting her to train with her and personal coach James Galanis in November.
Johnston told me her work habits and her fitness have improved ever since.
Johnston is one of several U.S. players whose significant others are also professional athletes. She told me her boyfriend Zach Ertz of the Philadelphia Eagles is set to attend at least one game in Canada.