Atlanta United ‘devastated’ by Brad Guzan’s ruptured Achilles

Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan (1) celebrates during the second half of an MLS soccer match against Sporting Kansas City, Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022, in Atlanta. Atlanta United won 3-1. (AP Photo/Danny Karnik)

Credit: AP

Combined ShapeCaption
Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan (1) celebrates during the second half of an MLS soccer match against Sporting Kansas City, Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022, in Atlanta. Atlanta United won 3-1. (AP Photo/Danny Karnik)

Credit: AP

Atlanta United’s manager and teammates described Brad Guzan’s season-ending Achilles rupture as devastating on Monday.

The team’s goalkeeper and captain suffered the injury in his right leg during Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Cincinnati, the team announced on Monday. He will miss the rest of the season.

In a non-contact injury, Guzan, 37, was moving toward the ball when he suddenly went to the ground during the second half of the game.

The team said a date for surgery has yet to determined.

“Personality leadership, good character, good footballer, good goalkeeper, many things,” manager Gonzalo Pineda said when asked what the team will miss with Guzan unable to play.

Pineda said the team is discussing signing another goalkeeper. Pineda said he is also deciding who will replace Guzan as captain.

Bobby Shuttleworth, an MLS veteran, came in for Guzan against Cincinnati and will become the starter, Pineda said. The team plays Chattanooga in the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday and at Miami in MLS action on Sunday. Justin Garces will be the back-up keeper. Dylan Castanheira, the previous third-string keeper, suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon during a training session a few weeks ago. The team can place Guzan on the season-ending injury reserve list and sign another goalkeeper.

“The mantra that we’ve been using since the very beginning, next man up and now Bobby is going to take care of that,” Pineda said. “And I’m sure he’s going to do fine.”

Guzan signed with Atlanta United in its inaugural 2017 season after spending the previous nine years in England playing for Aston Villa, Hull and Middlesbrough. Guzan has 140 appearances with 47 clean sheets in league games for the Five Stripes. A former starter for the U.S. men’s national team, Guzan made 64 appearances for his country. Before going to England, Guzan played for Chivas USA. He attended college at South Carolina.

Guzan, along with Josef Martinez, has become the face of the franchise in recent years. The supporters section created a chant specifically for him. “He’s big, he’s bald, he’s an (expletive) wall.”

As a captain and leader, Guzan would frequently be the player to answer questions after disappointing performances by the team. He would hold himself and his teammates accountable. He would praise them when they would do well. He would go into the nuances of tactics and strategy. He would also sometimes challenge was was written.

“Huge loss,” midfielder Emerson Hyndman said. “I mean, he’s obviously been a leader here for many years. And it was just sad to see him go down and all of us feel for him, but we’ll be right behind him.”

Shuttleworth and Pineda said Guzan came to the training center on Monday and was in good spirits. Shuttleworth said he hasn’t discussed with Guzan if he is considering retiring. Pineda said Guzan deserves to retire on the field and not because of an injury.

Shuttleworth said he won’t try to be the next Guzan. The 34-year-old is almost as experienced as Guzan, with 221 appearances since joining the league with New England in 2009.

Shuttleworth said his strengths are that he is a good communicator, is quick off his line, and a good distributor of the ball, which is important in Pineda’s system.

“I’ve been in this exact situation before, and I’ve played a lot of games,” Shuttleworth said. “So you know, rely on that experience. And at the end of the day, it’s just a soccer game.”

Guzan’s is another in a long line of injuries suffered by the team this season. Martinez is out for at least six more weeks after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his knee two weeks ago. Midfielder Ozzie Alonso, another veteran, is out for the season after suffering a torn ACL in his right knee two weeks ago. Midfielder Matheus Rossetto suffered a hamstring injury in the same game. Luiz Araujo recently returned from a hamstring injury suffered in the season’s first game. Franco Ibarra recently returned from an injury suffered in the preseason. Machop Chol has yet to play because of an injury suffered in the preseason. Marcelino Moreno missed most of training camp because of a foot injury.

Pineda said the sports science department has reviewed its procedures to try to see if there can be improvement. He said some small things have been changed.

“I think sometimes this happens, right?” Pineda said. “And those type of injuries doesn’t reflect anything of what we have changed. We haven’t changed that much. And especially for the goalkeepers, we’ve been following the same routine since probably five, six years. We review all that. I think we have to continue with the same process we have in place. We are believing a lot in this process. And I think we’re going to be fine.”

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Atlanta United’s 2022 MLS schedule

Feb. 27 Atlanta United 3, Sporting KC 1

March 5 Colorado 3, Atlanta United 0

March 13 Atlanta United 2, Charlotte 1

March 19 Atlanta United 3, Montreal 3

April 2 Atlanta United 1, D.C. United 0

April 10 Charlotte 1, Atlanta United 0

April 16 Atlanta United 0, Cincinnati 0

April 24 at Miami, 1 p.m., ESPN

April 30 at Montreal, 4 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

May 7 vs. Chicago, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

May 15 vs. New England, 1:30 p.m., ESPN

May 21 at Nashville, 7:30 p.m. FOX

May 28 vs. Columbus Crew, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

June 19 vs Miami, 4 p.m., ESPN2

June 25 at Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

June 30 at New York Red Bulls, 8 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 3 at NYCFC, 5 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 9 vs. Austin, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 13 vs. Real Salt Lake, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 17 vs. Orlando, 3 p.m., ABC

July 24 at L.A. Galaxy, 9:30 p.m., FS1

July 30 at Chicago, 5 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

August 6 vs. Seattle, 3 p.m., ABC

August 13 at Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m. BSSO/BSSE

August 17 vs. New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

August 21 at Columbus, 6 p.m., FS1

August 28 vs. D.C. United, 4 p.m., UNIV

August 31 at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 4 at Portland, 5:30 p.m., FOX

Sept. 10 vs. Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Sept. 14 at Orlando, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Sept 17 vs. Philadelphia, 3:30 p.m., UniMas

Oct. 1 at New England, 1 p.m., UniMas

Oct. 9 vs. NYCFC, TBD, BSSO/BSSE