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Gamecock Brad Guzan heads to World Cup

The former Carolina keeper backs up Tim Howard in net for the Americans, who begin their quest for World Cup glory on June 16 against Ghana.

Scott Heavey

Ten years ago, Brad Guzan started in net for the South Carolina Gamecocks, as the team ran out to a 12-7-1 record, earning a berth in the NCAA tournament.  Next week, he's poised to lead another team into a major soccer tournmanet, albeit in a back-up role, as the #2 keeper for the American national team behind starter Tim Howard, who many of you may recognize from this lovely throw that set up a goal more than a few Americans recall from four years ago.

Guzan came to Columbia from Evergreen Park, Illinois, which may have made his next couple of transitions a bit easier.  After his second year at Carolina, Guzan left for Los Angeles to play for MLS team Chivas USA.  Four years later, he made yet another big move for a soccer opportunity, heading to England with Premier League team Aston Villa.  It took him four years as a back-up to earn the starting role, but he now has 81 appearances as a player in one of the top soccer leagues in the world.

Now with the national team, Guzan again finds himself in a back-up role, though with Howard's international career likely concluding with this World Cup, Guzan sits as the heir apparent to the goalkeeper shirt for the U.S.  He mentioned recently in an interview with Yahoo! Sports his frustration about sitting on the bench during crucial games, but acknowledged the reality of the situation:

''Everyone wants to play. It's probably a little bit more of a difficult situation for a goalkeeper just because we know only one of us can play.

''It becomes a bit tricky, but at the same time, you always have to be prepared because you get judged on your performance. And if you get called into a game in the fifth minute or the 95th minute, you have to be ready to step in and do a job.''

It's unlikely Guzan sees the field in Brazil unless Howard gets injured or red carded along the way, but it still represents a major accomplishment for him and the Gamecock soccer program to see him walk out of the tunnel for FIFA World Cup matches bearing the stars and stripes.

The U.S. kicks off its World Cup campaign on Monday, June 16 against Ghana.  Get primed for all the action with this beautiful preview from SB Nation.  Alternatively, spend a few minutes looking at this important picture of the national dog of each country dressed in its team's jersey.