Guzan puts World Cup qualifying nightmare behind him to deliver Atlanta United shutout

Brad Guzan MLS Atlanta United 09132017
Brett Davis
The veteran goalkeeper overcame the disappointment of the U.S. missing out on the 2018 World Cup to help his side earn a draw at Red Bull Arena

HARRISON, N.J. — Brad Guzan didn't play like someone carrying the burden of a catastrophic result, but the Atlanta United goalkeeper readily admitted it wasn't easy putting the disappointment of the U.S. national team's World Cup qualifying failure behind him.

Guzan did just that, though, making three saves in a 0-0 draw against the New York Red Bulls on Sunday.

Just five days after being on the bench for the U.S. team's stunning 2-1 loss to Trinidad & Tobago, which cost the Americans a place at the 2018 World Cup, Guzan was still processing the pain of that defeat, even as he put in a strong showing for his club team.

"It was probably the worst moment in my career," Guzan told Goal. "To be a part of that, we failed, plain and simple. We didn't get the job done.

"Because of the magnitude of Tuesday it wasn't easy by any means. The weight that Tuesday carries isn't something that you brush aside lightly."

Guzan turned in a strong showing for the expansion side, which heads into the final weekend of the MLS season with a chance to climb as high as second place in the Eastern Conference with a win at home against Toronto FC.

"He played how he had to play, like a professional of his stature," Atlanta coach Gerardo "Tata" Martino said. "He didn't get to play for the national team, but he kept on going and came here and did the things he had to do."

"I think it shows Brad's character," Red Bulls midfielder Sacha Kljestan added.

A longtime friend and former teammate of Guzan's, Kljestan nearly spoiled the shutout with a shot off the post. He, as much as anyone at Red Bull Arena, knew full well what Guzan was dealing with after Tuesday's qualifying debacle.

"Obviously he was very (unhappy) with not playing in that Trinidad game after they had split every time — then you feel helpless on the bench, you can't do anything," Kljestan said. "For him to come out and play a very good game tonight, I'm happy for him. I wish my shot would have gone in, but I'm happy for him."

Guzan will play a big part in Atlanta's quest to become only the second MLS expansion team to win an MLS Cup (after the Chicago Fire in 1998), and he credits the club with helping him deal with last week's national team disappointment.

"In terms of Atlanta United, these guys have been great since I came back," Guzan said. "They've been able to help me in terms of being mentally focused here and concentrating here. I owe it to them to be mentally and physically ready."

As for the national team, the 33-year-old made it clear he doesn't plan on retiring anytime soon.

"There's friendlies in November. We'll see who they name as the manager and then go from there," Guzan said. "There's a long time between now and November, and what U.S. Soccer's going to do. There's a lot of things on the table. We'll wait and see.

"If my name and number is called, I'll be there."