Guzan, next in line

Brad Guzan burst on to the US footballing scene only recently, but the huge net-minder has already begun to be mentioned in the same breath as such England-based American all-stars like namesake, Brad Friedel - who he will study under when he joins new club Aston Villa this season - and Everton's Tim Howard.

The Illinois-born Guzan had precious little do in the Americans' opener against Japan in Tianjin on 7 August, a development that suits the 1.93 metre shot-stopper right down to the ground.

"As a goalkeeper any time you can keep a clean sheet it's just great," he told en route to the official opening ceremony at the Bird's Nest stadium in Beijing on Friday. "I really didn't have much to do with it though, as I don't think I had to make a big save the whole game."

No trouble
The fact that Guzan, who spent two sizzling years at Chivas USA, had only a few scares in the opener was down to an outstanding performance by a talented back four which includes fellow over-age player Michael Parkhurst of the New England Revolution and senior international partner Maurice Edu, with the pacy, Mexico-based Michaal Orozco on the left and powerhouse Marvell Wynne out left.

"Those four guys in front of me are just so confident on the ball and they read the game so well that it makes your life as a goalkeeper that much easier," added Guzan who says he is "thrilled" to be heading to the English Premier League and Aston Villa after the Olympics.

The fabulous back four's contributions were not restricted to cutting out rapid Japanese raids up the flanks, but they got forward to great effect as well.

"They can attack too," Guzan said admiringly, referring obviously to the forays forward of both the tricky Orozco, who plays his club football with San Luis FC, and Wynne, whose power and speed up the right carved out the only goal of the game. "Marvell did all the hard work for our goal, burning his man and laying the ball in for someone to take advantage of."

In this case it was hard-working midfielder Stuart Holden, not one of the US's star forwards like Brian McBride, Jozy Altidore or Freddy Adu, who bundled the ball home. Now the Americans find themselves sitting atop arguably the toughest group at the Men's Olympic Football Tournament.

"We know they're a really good team," Guzan said of a star-studded Dutch side that drew 0-0 with Nigeria in their opener. "We'll watch the DVD (of the Dutch), make sure we cut out the little mistakes we made against Japan and be ready to go."

Insider info
The goalkeeper also told of the US's secret weapon in the hunt to get the better of Royston Drenthe, Ryan Babel and the rest of the European Champions: one Michael Bradley. The senior international and son of full US team coach, Bob, Bradley has played his football in Holland with Heerenveen for the last two years.

"Of course Michael is telling us who to look out for and maybe giving us a little insight into the way the Dutch will play," admitted Guzan, 23, who has eight caps for the full senior team. "But if we didn't know that they were going to be a tough test before now, then we'd be in trouble."