The Copa América Centenario starts to get real this week as the U.S.’s freshly announced 23-man roster gathers in the Dallas area for friendlies against Ecuador on Wednesday in Frisco, Tex., and Bolivia on Saturday in Kansas City, Kan.
A makeshift U.S. squad earned a 3-1 win against host Puerto Rico on Sunday in Bayamón, and while the game itself was what it was “a scrimmage for both teams,” according to U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann, there was still opportunity to glean some news regarding Klinsmann's choice to anoint Brad Guzan as his No. 1 goalkeeper over Tim Howard (and Ethan Horvath) and a few club moves in the making for some prominent Americans abroad.
First, the goalkeepers. Why was Guzan preferred?
Here was Klinsmann's response:
“In all the decisions that you’re making, there’s a longer thought process coming in," he said. "You’re not taking things lightly, and when you have to cut a roster from 40 players to 23 you have a lot of situations where you have 50-50 situations and you try with your coaching staff to take the personnel apart and put it together the best way you foresee the competition to happen.
“Copa América is a very unique competition. It’s different from a World Cup, different to a European Championship, and our overall thought had to do with, ‘What is to be expected in this competition?’ The goalkeeper situation is a bit aside because of how it developed over the last two years since the World Cup. Tim obviously took a year off after an amazing tournament in Brazil, and then he lost his spot at Everton. He concluded his career overseas with Everton and left his club as a real legend with what he did. I’m very proud of him, and he’s coming home to MLS.
“But [Howard] hasn’t played much the last half-year. Brad was with us obviously the whole time. He became the No. 1. He played the Gold Cup. None of the games over the last two years, even if he didn’t win the Gold Cup, did he make any mistakes. If you go through all the games and go through his club situation, he had a very tough year with Aston Villa being relegated. And also losing the No. 1 spot [there], winning it back, losing it again. He had a real battlefield the entire season.
“The decision went to [Guzan] because we believe he will continue to be excellent the way he’s done it the last two years with the national team. I had a long talk with Tim last week, and he totally understands, totally supports the decision. He knew we can only play one goalkeeper. For me it’s really important to have Tim on board.
“The goalkeeper situation is a little different because our youngsters have struggled there. We had big hopes four years ago for goalkeepers, and young goalkeepers like Bill Hamid and Sean Johnson didn’t develop the way we hoped. Now comes the next wave of goalkeepers.”
Howard wasn’t available to speak to the media on Saturday or Sunday to provide his reaction to the decision.
As for Guzan and a pair of his U.S. teammates, club news appears to be in the offing:
Guzan set to make a move; MLS in play?
After a brutal season at relegated Aston Villa, Guzan is set to make a club move this summer. I’m told that two Premier League teams have shown interest in Guzan, but he’s also ready to come back to MLS this summer if he got the right offer. His bargaining power isn’t bad in MLS, considering he is ahead of Howard, who’s earning a guaranteed $2.5 million a year with Colorado, on the U.S. depth chart.
Guzan began his professional career at Chivas USA before leaving for Aston Villa in 2008.
Yedlin could return to Sunderland
DeAndre Yedlin had a terrific finish to his club season on loan at Sunderland as the team stayed up for next season’s Premier League. A source close to the situation says there’s a very real possibility that Spurs will sell Yedlin to Sunderland this summer and make it a permanent move.
One other Premier League team is interested in Yedlin, but Sunderland is the most likely scenario.
Bedoya drawing EPL, Bundesliga interest
A source close to Alejandro Bedoya’s situation says the Nantes midfielder is drawing interest from clubs in both the English Premier League and the German Bundesliga. Bedoya has done well at Nantes, where he has three more years on his contract, but a move this summer or potentially in January is likely. Bedoya, who scored his fifth goal in all competitions in the club's season finale, captained the U.S. on Sunday, and he assisted on Paul Arriola's goal that capped the scoring against Puerto Rico.
After nearly moving to MLS teams Philadelphia and Colorado over the past year, Bedoya is more likely now to stay in Europe, but an MLS move in January isn't completely off the table if a European move doesn't get done this summer.