102312_guzanbrad_isi_usmntjt060609853 John Todd/isiphotos.com
Rising and Falling

Hot or Not: Guzan's Got it Goin' on in Goal

The American netminder is making the job at Aston Villa his own. Could he start pushing Tim Howard for the No. 1 United States shirt? Plus, it's all about Jozy Altidore. Again.
BY Jon Arnold Posted
December 19, 2012
9:16 AM
Who’s Hot?

Jozy Altidore: The forward scored both AZ goals in a 2-1 victory against PEC Zwolle this weekend.

Then, just to tie up any loose ends, he scored an awesome goal midweek in a cup match in which he beat two defenders and fired into the back of the net with his left foot.

The weekend goals snapped a four-match scoreless streak for Altidore, who was leading the goal-happy Eredivisie in scoring at the beginning of the year but now sits in fourth. Perhaps more impressive than the quantity is the way he’s scoring. His first goal Saturday showed a combination of pure speed and strength, while his second required him to make a run and show his finishing skill. The midweek goal showed a little bit of all of those. While some will chalk up Altidore’s recent success to a weaker league, he’s definitely become a better scorer than he was even a few months ago. You can be sure Jurgen Klinsmann is watching, which is good because 2013 is shaping up nicely for Altidore.

Brad Guzan: Liverpool blasted 29 shots toward Guzan, including eight of them on target. Not until the 87th minute, when the game was well in the bag for Aston Villa, did Guzan yield and allow a goal past him. He ended the match with six saves, and one of the toughest tasks he faced was keeping Villa and USMNT teammate Eric Lichaj from an own goal. (Lichaj later atoned with a clearance off the line.)

It wasn’t just shot-blocking where he excelled. Guzan also snapped up four crosses and looked supremely confident, even though the Villa back line hasn’t exactly been confidence-inspiring this year. Tim Howard isn’t slipping much, but Guzan’s recent form gives plenty of reason for U.S. fans not to fear if a back-up is needed.

Who’s not?

Mike Grella: After a promising college career at Duke, Grella hopped over to England and contributed with Leeds nearly right away. Since then, he’s been successful in lower-division English football, scoring goals in bunches for Brentford and Bury before moving the Scunthorpe this offseason. Unfortunately, it remains to be seen how he’ll figure in manager Brian Laws’ plans as the club seeks to avoid relegation to League 2. Grella was dropped to the bench for the Irons’ 3-1 win against Leyton Orient after missing a penalty in a 2-1 loss to Bournemouth on December 8. Somehow, an admittedly drunk fan provides stable video of the penalty miss at the :40 mark of this video after :39 seconds of horrendous camera work:

Jermaine Jones: Last week we featured Jones in his own category, but this week he just lands here. Suspended four Bundesliga matches after getting sent off for a tackle from behind in a 3-1 loss against Stuttgart, Jones is still eligible for cup play. Or he was before Schalke crashed out of the cup in the Round of 16, losing 2-1 to Mainz. And just days after the German federation extended Jones’ red card suspension because of his reputation, he picked up a yellow card. Woof.

Jon Arnold (@ArnoldcommaJon) is a freelance writer based in Phoenix and the co-host of MLS in 30 on NASN.TV.

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