QUINCY, Mass. – Brad Guzan said he remembers the details “like it was yesterday,” and he tells the story of the moment three years ago when he bet big on himself as if it really did just happen. He recalls what was said, how he felt and the granular details of his quick but crucial trip to Birmingham, England—including the time of day he sat down with new Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert to talk about his future.
Guzan was 27 years old in the summer of 2012. He was entering a goalkeeper’s prime but had started just seven Premier League games during his first four seasons at the club. He was at a crossroads, pegged by many back in the U.S. as the next great American goalkeeper but still unable to break through for club or country. His career had stagnated, and few would have blamed the Chicagoland native if he never wanted to step foot in Britain’s “Second City” again.
Instead, Guzan rushed back.
“It was on a Monday afternoon when I had the conversation with [Lambert] on the phone. On Tuesday afternoon, I booked a flight form Chicago to London. Landed Wednesday morning, drove two hours up to Birmingham to the training ground, met with the manager at 11 o’clock or so,” Guzan recounted to SI.com outside Boston, where he was preparing for his second CONCACAF Gold Cup match as the U.S. national team’s undisputed No. 1. “Met with him from 11 to around 1, got back in the car, two hours back down to Heathrow, back on the plane and was home for dinner in Chicago Wednesday night.”
Although he felt somewhat marginalized by previous coaches (Brad Friedel’s presence notwithstanding), Guzan remained loyal to Villa in part because the club was undeterred during its lengthy 2008 pursuit of his U.K. work permit. Perhaps more importantly, Guzan was unwilling to retreat. Despite a lack of playing time, he remained certain he could thrive in the Premier League. Rather than sign with a smaller club where minutes might be certain, he asked Lambert only for a clean slate. Guzan would fill in the blanks.
“That everyone starts fresh and everyone is going to be given a fair opportunity. That’s what I needed,” Guzan said when asked what he was looking to hear that day at Bodymoor Heath. “Years previous to that, I don’t feel I had a fair shake at things and all I wanted was a fresh opportunity and a fresh chance … I back myself. I trust in my ability. I believe in myself. Not in a cocky way, but in a confident way. I know I can play at the top level.”
Guzan signed a new contract, started 37 of 38 league games and was named Villa’s player of the season. The following summer, he inked an extension. Guzan bet on himself, and he won. Naturally, he remembers the particulars.
Broad shouldered and standing an imposing 6'4", Guzan is built like a prototypical goalkeeper but didn’t embrace the position until arriving at the University of South Carolina. He’d played in net at the ODP level but at his youth club, the Chicago Magic, he preferred midfield. He may have had an early urge to kick and run, but learning to think like a goalie came a bit more naturally. A unique position demands unique perspective. Playing time is at a premium. For the third-best attacker or defender, there’s probably still a starting role available. For goalies, it’s one at a time. And mistakes are magnified.
“When you make a mistake, it normally results in a goal. You’re on the ‘Not Top 10’ or you’re the butt of the joke. It’s not great. That comes with it and you have to toughen up very quickly, and I’ve learned that if you’re not going to be able to shake things off and get on with making a mistake here or there, you’re not going to survive,” Guzan explained. “It’s a different mentality. You have to have thick skin. You have to learn to be able to deal with things and move on from things and for me that was probably, and to a certain extent still is, one of the biggest aspects of goalkeeping.”
Doubt can creep in, not only when there’s a ball behind you, but when there always seems to be another goalie ahead. Guzan eventually established himself as the No. 1 at Villa Park in 2012 but with the U.S. national team, the wait was longer. He made his senior debut back in 2006, was part of the squad that claimed the 2007 Gold Cup title and started at the Olympics the following summer in Beijing. At the same time, he was backstopping Chivas USA to the MLS playoffs.
But as Kasey Keller left the stage, Tim Howard stepped into the spotlight. And there he remained, through the ’09 Confederations Cup, the ’11 Gold Cup (which Guzan missed while getting married) and the ’10 and ’14 World Cups. Guzan would be named to the team, travel and train and then stay on the bench as Howard took his place between the posts. Prior to this Gold Cup, Guzan started only two tournament games for the senior national team—a dead rubber 1-0 loss to Colombia at the ‘07 Copa América and the 3-0 win over Egypt at the Confederations Cup.
He had no choice but to practice as if he was going to play.
“There are probably a select few players in the world, on one hand you could count them, that can literally flip a switch and say, ‘You know what? Today I’m going to turn it on.’ I’m not one of those players,” Guzan said. “There’s disappointment [when I don’t play]. You don’t get to be a professional or get to the national team by being satisfied being a No. 2, by being satisfied with being on the bench and just being a part of it … Every time I didn’t play, of course there was frustration. Especially after games like the Egypt game, when you win 3-0 and you help the team advance and then next thing you know, you find yourself back on the bench.”
Days like that critical one in Rustenberg, which set the U.S. up for its famous upset of Spain, helped motivate Guzan to keep pushing. They confirmed he could do it. The thick skin, and a goalie’s ability to move on quickly from disappointment, took care of the rest.
He performed well when called upon. After failing to start an international for 28 months, Guzan stepped up in March 2013 and stonewalled the opposition in two critical World Cup qualifiers. He shut out Costa Rica in a blizzard outside Denver, then stymied Mexico four days later at the Estadio Azteca.
“Whenever you get those opportunities, that’s when you have to prove it to other people. Then you have to show everybody else what your self belief is and how you can perform” he said.
It obviously made an impression on U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann. Even though he opted for Howard at last year’s World Cup and even though Nick Rimando was flawless at the 2013 Gold Cup, Guzan remained on the cusp of the starting job. In May, Klinsmann named Guzan the Gold Cup starter when unveiling the tournament roster. This is a manger who’s been reluctant to anoint anyone, no matter how accomplished. Klinsmann believes comfort and security are recipes for complacency. But he made an exception for Guzan, despite the goalkeeper’s recent benching at Villa. Klinsmann saw a player who’d overcome that disappointment.
“We are excited to have Brad Guzan back in our group,” Klinsmann said. “It’s exciting, even if he had some tough weeks at Aston Villa, where suddenly the coach for whatever reason decided to put him behind Shay Given. That surprised us big time. But he fights through that and he will be sharp and hungry for the long summer.”
Michael Bradley said, “Across the board, the confidence in Brad is huge. We’re all excited for him now that he’s getting extended run of games as the No. 1. There’s full confidence in him that when big moments come, that he’ll be there for us.”
Said Guzan, “We’re human and you want that support and publicly, it’s even better. But it doesn’t change anything from my point of view. I still have to go out and perform. I still have to go out and prove myself and justify his decision. If I go out and have an absolute stinker and throw the ball into the back of the net, of course I’m no longer going to be the No. 1.”
Guzan has justified Klinsmann’s decision. He was outstanding as the U.S. grinded its way to first place in a rough and tumble Gold Cup group that included 2013 runner-up Panama, 2010 and 2014 World Cup qualifier Honduras and up-and-coming Haiti. None of the games was easy and the Americans had far less control than many anticipated, but Guzan held steady behind an inexperienced and evolving back line.
He was on from the opening whistle, denying Honduras’ Anthony Lozano with a quick drop to the right in only the third minute in Frisco, Texas. Three days later in Foxborough, Massachusetts, Guzan preserved a one-goal led when he stopped Duckens Nazon on a breakaway. Against Panama in Kansas City, Guzan acrobatically tipped a late, close-range redirection from Miguel Camargo just past the left post. Guzan was beaten twice in three games, but made more than enough good saves to compensate.
During a group stage that featured conversations about Clint Dempsey’s lost captaincy and clutch scoring touch, issues in possession and along the back line, Jozy Altidore’s health and the grueling nature of beating smaller, desperate rivals, Guzan’s performance has been largely overlooked. He was expected to do well and he has—nothing new to see here. Despite the relative lack of international experience for a player of his stature (he has only 34 caps), there was little question he’d be up to the task. Goalkeeper remains one of only two or three spots on the field that U.S. coaches and fans still don’t have to worry about. Guzan is ably carrying on one of the few American soccer traditions.
On Saturday in Baltimore, he’ll be in net again as the U.S. (2-0-1) meets surprising Cuba (1-2-0) in the Gold Cup quarterfinals. A semifinal against either Jamaica or Haiti awaits on Wednesday. The prospects are tantalizing. Guzan was in a Soldier Field suite during the ’07 Gold Cup final. He was on the sidelines during the 2009 Confederations Cup final and then missed the 2010 League Cup final and 2015 FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium with Villa (all losses). He’s been so close to the biggest games, so many times. But he’s yet to experience the feeling of a major final or the thrill of lifting a trophy. When asked, he could not name the last time he played and won something.
“Probably youth soccer at some point,” was the best Guzan could do.
It’s only natural to imagine lifting the Gold Cup in Philadelphia, to anticipate the thrill and joy and relief of that moment. But spending more than a second or two would take Guzan away from what’s worked so far.
“If all of a sudden I start thinking too much about that, I’m pretty confident I wouldn’t get to that point because there’s many other steps along the way,” he said with the certainty of someone who spent years on that road.
However the Gold Cup ends, Guzan expects to return to Birmingham, where he’s under contract for two more seasons. Yes, he was demoted in April and missed Villa’s final five games. But there was no complaint, no controversy and no public demand for a transfer. Shay Given, who stepped in for Guzan during the stretch run, has moved on to Stoke City, and new signing Mark Bunn, who like Guzan is 30, spent the past two seasons on the bench at Norwich City. The English press is speculating that the starting job once again is Guzan’s to lose.
Whether the same is true at international level remains to be seen. There’s still a Gold Cup to win, and Howard has hinted that he may opt to end his U.S. sabbatical. Younger keepers like William Yarbrough and Bill Hamid are eager to add their names to the lineage and Rimando may play forever.
“It’s a cutthroat business and if you don’t perform or if somebody wakes up on the wrong side of the bed and you’re not their guy, they’ll find a way to move you on,” Guzan said.
Given the responsibility he coveted, he now must fight to keep it. But he’ll do so not by worrying about the future or the competition or what might go wrong. He’ll do it by being a goalkeeper—by “brushing off” and powering through mistakes, snubs, and fear and focusing only on the next play, the next game and what he might do to help his team win. He'll bet on himself.
“There’s always another guy in line. After me, there’s going to be somebody else. That’s the way professional sports go. Players come and go and move on. For me, this is a huge opportunity because it’s a chance to be No. 1 in a huge tournament that means a lot to our team and this country,” he said. “I hope I’m the guy in 2018. It’s up to me to prove to the coaches that I can be counted on, and it starts with the Gold Cup. It starts with this tournament here. It’s about the belief I have within myself and my ability. So when you put those things into place, hopefully that turns into good results on the field.”
The Year in Photos: U.S. Soccer in 2015
U.S. U-20 vs. El Salvador, January 24
Paul Arriola (7) celebrates his goal in a World Cup qualifying playoff match vs. El Salvador. The U.S. U-20s cemented their place in the World Cup with a 2-0 win. They drew host New Zealand, Ukraine and Myanmar in their summer group.
USMNT vs. Chile, January 28
Bobby Wood flies high in the USA's 3-2 loss to Chile, which opened the calendar year for the national team. Brek Shea and Jozy Altidore scored in the loss.
USMNT vs. Panama, February 8
Gyasi Zardes and Clint Dempsey celebrate after combining for a goal against Panama at StubHub Center to cap off winter training camp with a 2-0 victory.
USWNT vs. France, February 8
Lori Chalupny (left) and the USWNT had a tough time keeping pace with Jessica Houara (center) and France in a 2-0 loss in a friendly in Lorient. The match was the first of two played without suspended goalkeeper Hope Solo.
USWNT vs. England, February 13
Alex Morgan celebrates scoring the lone goal in the USWNT's 1-0 win over England in a friendly at Stadium mk in Milton Keynes.
USWNT vs. Norway, March 4
The USWNT opens the Algarve Cup with a 2-1 win over Norway, marking Hope Solo's return from a 30-day suspension with a come-from-behind victory. Carli Lloyd scored both goals for the Americans.
USWNT vs. Switzerland, March 6
Alex Morgan celebrates her goal in the USWNT's 3-0 win over Switzerland in the Algarve Cup group stage.
USWNT vs. Iceland, March 9
Alex Morgan and the USWNT were frustrated by Iceland, held to a 0-0 draw to wrap up group play at the Algarve Cup. The result was still enough to put the Americans in the final against France.
USWNT vs. France, March 11
The U.S. women's national team celebrates winning the Algarve Cup after a 2-0 triumph over France. Julie Johnston and Christen Press scored, and Hope Solo saved a penalty kick.
U.S. U-17 vs. Jamaica, March 15
The U.S. U-17 national team celebrates qualifying for the FIFA U-17 World Cup after defeating Jamaica on penalty kicks following a 0-0 draw in a playoff match.
USMNT vs. Denmark, March 25
U.S. goalkeeper Nick Rimando expresses his frustration after one of Nicklas Bendtner's three goals in Denmark's 3-2 win over the Americans. Jozy Altidore and Aron Johannsson scored for the USA.
USMNT vs. Switzerland, March 31
Jozy Altidore watches as Brek Shea hits a perfect free kick to put the USA on the board against Switzerland. The Americans settled for a 1-1 draw.
USWNT vs. New Zealand, April 4
Lori Chalupny (16) celebrates her goal vs. New Zealand with Lauren Holiday at St. Louis's Busch Stadium. The goal opened the floodgates for a late outburst en route to a 4-0 U.S. victory in front of more than 35,000 fans.
USMNT vs. Mexico, April 15
Jordan Morris etched his name in U.S.-Mexico lore, as the Stanford University forward scored in his first senior national team start to break a scoreless draw against El Tri at the Alamodome.
USMNT vs. Mexico, April 15
Juan Agudelo collapses to the ground in celebration after his goal at the Alamodome gave the USA a familiar lead over Mexico: Dos-a-Cero.
U.S. U-23 vs. Mexico, April 22
Real Salt Lake's Luis Gil captains the USA to a 3-0 win over Mexico at StubHub Center in Olympic qualifying preparation for both CONCACAF favorites.
USWNT vs. Ireland, May 10
Abby Wambach celebrates one of her two goals vs. Ireland as the USWNT took a 3-0 win on Mother's Day at Avaya Stadium.
USWNT vs. Mexico, May 17
Sydney Leroux is congratulated by her teammates after one of her two goals in a 5-1 pre-World Cup rout of Mexico at StubHub Center.
U.S. U-20 vs. Myanmar, May 30
Maki Tall celebrates his equalizer for the USA as part of a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Myanmar to open the U-20 World Cup group stage in New Zealand.
USWNT vs. South Korea, May 30
Carli Lloyd gets off a shot through traffic in the USA's final World Cup send-off friendly, a 0-0 draw against South Korea at Red Bull Arena.
U.S. U-23 in Toulon Tournament, May-June
Alonso Hernandez, left, takes on Qatar, while Julian Green, right, vies for the ball against France in the Toulon Tournament as part of Olympic qualifying preparations.
U.S. U-20 vs. New Zealand, June 2
Gedion Zelalem controls the ball against New Zealand in the USA's 4-0 win that cemented a place in the U-20 World Cup knockout stage.
U.S. U-20 vs. Ukraine, June 5
From left, Joel Soñora, Gedion Zelalem and Rubio Rubin show frustration during a 3-0 loss to Ukraine that wrapped up group play in the U-20 World Cup.
USMNT vs. Netherlands, June 5
DeAndre Yedlin and Danny Williams salute each other after the latter's goal–his first international strike–brought the U.S. level with the Netherlands at 3-3 in the 89th minute.
USMNT vs. Netherlands, June 5
Bobby Wood puts the finishing touch on an epic comeback, with his 90th-minute strike capping a wild 4-3 win for the USA over the Netherlands. The USA trailed 3-1 in the 71st minute.
U.S. U-23 vs. England, June 7
USA defender Boyd Okwuonu makes a tackle on England's Duncan Watmore in the Toulon Tournament third-place game. The U.S. U-23s won 2-1, sealing their best finish in the tournament.
USWNT vs. Australia, June 8, WWC
Megan Rapinoe lets out a yell after her second goal, which sealed the USA's 3-1 win over Australia to open Group D play in the Women's World Cup.
U.S. U-20 vs. Colombia, June 10
Rubio Rubin celebrates the goal that gives the USA a 1-0 win over Colombia in the FIFA U-20 World Cup round of 16. Zack Steffen's late penalty save preserved the win, as the Americans reached the quarterfinals for the first time since 2007.
USMNT vs. Germany, June 10
Michael Bradley was everywhere against World Cup champion Germany, assisting on Mix Diskerud's equalizer and commanding the midfield in a 2-1 win in Cologne.
USMNT vs. Germany, June 10
For the second straight game, Bobby Wood came off the bench and scored a stunning winner. He watches his long-range blast beat Ron-Robert Zieler in a 2-1 win over world No. 1 Germany.
USWNT vs. Sweden, June 12
Julie Johnston wins the header in a dominant showing on the U.S. back line, helping the Americans preserve a 0-0 draw against Sweden in the second game of the Women's World Cup group stage.
U.S. U-20 vs. Serbia, June 13
U.S. players' emotions say it all after a gut-wrenching loss to Serbia in penalty kicks at the U-20 World Cup. After a 0-0 draw, the Americans fell 6-5 in PKs, despite Zack Steffen's two saves in sudden death.
USWNT vs. Nigeria, June 16
Abby Wambach leaps for joy after scoring in the 45th minute off Megan Rapinoe's corner kick, which delivered a 1-0 win to the USA and first place in Group D of the Women's World Cup.
USWNT vs. Colombia, June 22
Alex Morgan's goal broke a 0-0 draw, provided relief after Abby Wambach's PK miss and helped the U.S. women to the World Cup quarterfinals after a 2-0 win over Colombia in the round of 16.
USWNT vs. China, June 26
While Carli Lloyd (10) celebrates her goal in the distance, stalwart center backs Julie Johnston and Becky Sauerbrunn rejoice in the goal that put the USA into the semifinals of the Women's World Cup.
USWNT vs. Germany, June 30
Carli Lloyd yells in celebration after scoring the penalty that put the USA up over Germany en route to a 2-0 victory in the Women's World Cup semifinals.
USMNT vs. Guatemala, July 3
DeAndre Yedlin and Jozy Altidore, wearing special jerseys with stars-and-stripes numbers for July 4, celebrate after a Guatemala own goal gifts the USA a 1-0 lead during a 4-0 win in Nashville, Tennessee, prior to the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
USWNT vs. Japan, July 5
Carli Lloyd sets the tone with a third-minute goal in the Women's World Cup final against Japan, the first of her three strikes within 16 minutes that lifted the USA to a 5-2 win and its first title in 16 years.
USWNT vs. Japan, July 5
U.S. players rush the field after the final whistle, which sealed their 5-2 triumph over Japan and a record third World Cup title.
USWNT vs. Japan, July 5
USWNT vs. Japan, July 5
Victorious, the U.S. women's national team raises the World Cup trophy for the third time, but the first in 16 years, after completing a 5-2 win over Japan in the final at Vancouver's BC Place.
USMNT vs. Honduras, July 7
Clint Dempsey leaps in celebration of his second goal in the USA's Gold Cup opener against Honduras. The Americans won 2-1, fending off a late Honduras surge to collect all three points in the start of their title defense.
USA vs. Haiti, July 10
Clint Dempsey (8) is congratulated by his teammates after a 47th-minute goal gave the USA a 1-0 win over Haiti in the Gold Cup. Gyasi Zardes, second from left, came on at halftime and assisted, and the win clinched first place in Group A.
USMNT vs Panama, July 13
Clint Dempsey, left, and Michael Bradley, right, celebrate after the latter's goal in the USA's 1-1 draw vs. Panama, which wrapped up group play in the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
USMNT vs. Cuba, July 18
The U.S. men put on a clinic against an overmatched Cuba in the Gold Cup quarterfinals, with Clint Dempsey's hat trick leading the way in a 6-0 rout. Gyasi Zardes, Aron Johannsson and Omar Gonzalez also scored.
USMNT vs. Jamaica, July 22
A downtrodden Clint Dempsey and Jurgen Klinsmann walk off the field as Jamaica celebrates a stunning 2-1 win over the USA in the CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinals.
USMNT vs. Panama, July 25
Michael Bradley walks away in dismay after having a penalty saved in a PK shootout in the USA's loss to Panama in the Gold Cup third-place game. After a 1-1 draw, Panama prevailed 3-2 in PKs, the USA's first shootout in 10 years.
USWNT vs. Costa Rica, August 16
Meghan Klingenberg waves a Terrible Towel in her hometown of Pittsburgh after scoring one of the USA's many goals in an 8-0 rout of Costa Rica in its first game since winning the 2015 Women's World Cup.
USWNT vs. Costa Rica, August 19
Alex Morgan and Kelley O'Hara celebrate during a second rout of Costa Rica in three days, this one a 7-2 win in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
USA U-23 vs. England U-21, Sept. 3
U.S. U-23 goalkeeper Zack Steffen looks on in disappointment as England U-21 forward James Wilson celebrates with Duncan Watmore after scoring the lone goal in a 1-0 friendly win in England.
USMNT vs. Peru, Sept. 4
Jozy Altidore, right, is congratulated after one of his two goals that sparked the USA's come-from-behind win over Peru at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.
USA U-23 vs. Qatar, Sept. 8
Gedion Zelalem made his U-23 debut off the bench in the USA's 2-0 win over Qatar in England in the final tune-up before Olympic qualifying
USMNT vs. Brazil, Sept. 8
Neymar and Marcelo celebrate while DeAndre Yedlin and Ventura Alvarado look away in disgust during Brazil's 4-1 rout of the USA at Gillette Stadium.
USWNT vs. Haiti, Sept. 17, 20
Carli Lloyd scored hat tricks in both games and NWSL Golden Boot winner Crystal Dunn scored her first international goals as the USWNT beat Haiti 5-0 and 8-0 in a pair of friendlies in Detroit and Birmingham, Alabama. Haiti replaced on-strike Australia as a last-minute opponent.
USA U-23 vs. Canada, October 1
Jerome Kiesewetter, left, and Emerson Hyndman, right, sandwich Jordan Morris after his first-minute goal in the USA's 3-1 win over Canada in their Olympic qualifying opener.
USA U-23 vs. Cuba, October 3
Cameron Carter-Vickers gets congratulated by Jerome Kiesewetter and Emerson Hyndman after opening the scoring in a 6-1 rout of Cuba in their Olympic qualifying match. The USA cemented its place in the semifinal round with the win.
USA U-23 vs. Panama, October 6
There was plenty of credit to go around, as the Americans finished off a perfect group run in Olympic qualifying with a 4-0 win over Panama. Jordan Morris and Jerome Kiesewetter came on at halftime and provided the spark needed to seize the three points.
USA U-23 vs. Honduras, October 10
Wil Trapp's reaction says it all, as the USA failed to secure an automatic berth to the 2016 Olympics after falling to Honduras 2-0 in the semifinals of CONCACAF's Olympic qualifying tournament at Real Salt Lake's Rio Tinto Stadium.
USMNT vs. Mexico, October 10
Captain Michael Bradley leads the USA out onto the field ahead of the Americans' CONCACAF Cup playoff vs. Mexico at the Rose Bowl.
USMNT vs. Mexico, October 10
Geoff Cameron beats Rafa Marquez to the spot and heads home a 15th-minute equalizer off a free kick from Michael Bradley, negating a Chicharito goal five minutes earlier in the CONCACAF Cup playoff between USA and Mexico.
USMNT vs. Mexico, October 10
U.S. forward Bobby Wood celebrates his 108th-minute goal vs. Mexico that brought the Americans level at 2-2 after Oribe Peralta had given El Tri the lead in extra time. That reprieve would only last for 10 minutes, though.
USMNT vs. Mexico, October 10
Jermaine Jones falls to his knees in disappointment as Mexico celebrates after Paul Aguilar's sensational volley in extra time captured the CONCACAF Cup for El Tri and sends the U.S. rival to the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup.
USA U-23 vs. Canada, October 13
Marc Pelosi (15) celebrates after his goal breaks the deadlock and sends the U.S. U-23s on their way to a 2-0 win over Canada in CONCACAF's Olympic qualifying third-place game. The U.S. still has a chance to reach Rio, but it'll have to go through Colombia in a playoff.
USMNT vs. Costa Rica, October 13
Tim Howard can't watch as Costa Rica players celebrate Joel Campbell's goal in a 1-0 friendly win at Red Bull Arena. The match marked Howard's return to the U.S. goal for the first time since the 2014 World Cup round of 16.
USA U-17 vs. Nigeria, October 17
Victor Osimhen scores for Nigeria in a 2-0 win over the USA in the teams' FIFA Under-17 World Cup opener in Chile.
USA U-17 vs. Croatia, October 20
USA U-17 midfielder Christian Pulisic watches his opening goal find the back of the net in the Americans' 2-2 draw with Croatia at the World Cup. The U.S. led 2-0 on Pulisic's goal and assist to Brandon Vazquez, but the European side mounted a furious rally to salvage a point.
USWNT vs. Brazil, October 21
Shannon Boxx, right, passes off the captain's armband to Carli Lloyd in her final act as a player, riding into retirement in the first half of a 1-1 draw against Brazil in Seattle.
USA U-17 vs. Chile, October 23
USA U-17 captain Hugo Arellano sits dejected after a 4-1 loss to host Chile eliminated the Americans from the World Cup in the group stage.
USWNT vs. Brazil, October 25
The USA said goodbye to two more veterans, with Lauren Holiday, left, and Lori Chalupny ending their careers during a 2-1 win over Brazil in Orlando. The team improved to 5-0-1 on its World Cup victory tour with the win.
USWNT at the White House, October 27
President Barack Obama welcomes the World Cup-champion USWNT to the White House, honoring their triumph in Canada.
USMNT vs. St. Vincent and the Grenadines, November 13
Jozy Altidore watches one of his shots head toward goal in the USA's 6-1 win over St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the opening of 2018 World Cup qualifying. Altidore scored twice, as the USA overcame a shocking early deficit and won at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
USMNT vs. Trinidad and Tobago, November 17
Gyasi Zardes and the U.S. men were held to a 0-0 draw by Trinidad and Tobago in Port of Spain, closing the year with a World Cup qualifying and sitting atop Group C in the semifinal round via goal differential tiebreaker.
USWNT vs. Trinidad & Tobago, December 10
Christen Press triumphantly raises her hand after a goal during her hat trick in a 6-0 rout of Trinidad & Tobago at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
USWNT vs. China, December 13
Crystal Dunn leaves her feet to settle a pass in the USA's 2-0 win over China at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. Dunn and Christen Press scored the goals.
USWNT vs. China, December 16
Abby Wambach is introduced in the U.S. lineup for the last time at the Superdome in New Orleans, playing in her final match before retiring. She ends her U.S. career with 255 appearances and an international-record 184 goals.