MLS has strength in goal

STEVEN SANDOR -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:29 AM ET

Danny Karbassiyoon, Arsenal's North American scout, was feverishly taking notes in the press box as Chivas USA slapped Toronto FC 2-0 on Saturday.

The fact that Arsenal had a scout at the most recent TFC game is further proof of just how seriously big clubs around the world regard the MLS.

And nowhere are Americans making more of an impact than at the goalkeeping position. MLS-bred keepers -- like former QMJHL and Finnish League netminders in the NHL -- are all the rage in England.

Of the 20 English Premier League teams, three feature MLS-trained starting keepers. Brad Friedel stars at Blackburn after playing for the Columbus Crew; Reading keeper Marcus Hahnemann, formerly of Colorado Rapids, has been spectacular so far this season; and Tim Howard has rediscovered his old New York/New Jersey MetroStars form with Everton.

And I shouldn't forget to mention American keeper Kasey Keller, who played in the EPL for nearly a decade -- even though he didn't come through the MLS.

Who could be the next MLS keeper to break into Europe? I'd bet on Chivas USA goalkeeper Brad Guzan. He's the first player ever from Chivas to play for the U.S. national team; he was a second-team All-American before coming to the MLS, and was one of the NCAA's top keepers in his time with the University of South Carolina.

"I'm only 22 years old. I know I have a long career ahead of me," said Guzan, who has shut out Toronto FC twice this season.

Guzan showed the BMO crowd his skill Saturday in robbing Marvell Wynne, who had a point-blank scoring chance in the box.

Had Wynne scored, it would have tied the game 1-1 at the time. But Guzan preserved the lead -- providing the key play that led to Chivas' win.

And Guzan thinks it's simpy fantastic that so many MLS goalies are making their names in the EPL, the world's greatest league.

"One thing about American keepers is that we all have a lot of athleticism," he said. "And, obviously, the recognition sort of began with Brad Friedel. He led the way for good American goalkeepers coming to England. And, the thinking was, if one American keeper can do so well, then there must be more back in the U.S."

If Guzan makes the jump out of the MLS, TFC would be happy to see him go. He's robbed them of several goals this season.

24 hours sports editor Steven Sandor has written about the Beautiful Game for numerous publications around the globe. The Red Card will appear every Wednesday in 24 hours.


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