Unprofessional Foul was extremely fortunate late last week to get the opportunity to have a brief Q&A of US Olympic keeper Brad Guzan. UF got to Brad just before he and the team departed to Hong Kong. Presumably Guzan was in those tights he and Stuart Holden are sporting to the right, since they wore those on the flight over.
I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Brad for taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer UF's question.
After the jump find out about Brad's future in England, his opponents in Beijing and his potential future manager Martin O'neil.
You are in the midst of preparing for the Olympics. How is the training going? What have your days been like? Do you have any good stories or pranks from the camp that you care to share?
The training is going very well. We are just trying to get everyone on the same page as some guys are coming from Europe and some are from MLS. We have been training either once or twice a day and just trying to prepare ourselves for the Olympics.
Besides preparing for the competition, has the team been preparing for other things, like the air pollution we keep hearing about or the different culture? Learning some Mandarin or Cantonese? I can tell you two things in Mandarin-- ni hao (pronounced "nee how") which means hello, and xie xie (pronounced "shyeh shyeh") which means thank you.
Part of the process was to learn about the culture, some key phrases and the life style over here. We are extremely excited to be here and are looking forward to this opportunity. Everyone is going to have to deal with the humidity and air, so we just have to get used to it.
Do you have any positions regarding politics in China? Or have you been told not to discuss those issues during the Olympics?
We are here to play soccer and enjoy ourselves, that's what we are going to do.
The US was drawn into a difficult group at the Olympics along with Netherlands, Japan and Nigeria. What are your expectations for the US team? Will the team win the gold? Or, any medal?
Obviously we are in a very tough group and expect nothing less then 3 hard games. In saying that, we are confident in our abilities and our going to give our best effort.
In your warmup matches against Cameroon and Cote d'Ivoire you will be facing two world class strikers, possibly, in Salomon Kalou and Samuel Eto'o. Kalou is already in the Premier League and rumors abound that Eto'o may move to England as well. And, in group play you will face Premiership players Ryan Babel and Victor Anichebe. Can you describe what your thoughts are about facing these players? Obviously those teams are more than just those players, but it has to be exhilarating and somewhat intimidating to face that caliber of players.
This is why it is exciting to play in the Olympics, you have the chance to play against some of the best players in the world. For me the challenge is exciting and I am looking forward to it.
Which Premiership player are you most looking forward to playing against? Which one do you most want to deny a goal?
All the players in the league are extremely good, that's why that league is one of the best in the world. Hopefully I can go in learn as much as I can and help my team be successful.
I guess the last question may be a bit premature, since your work permit hasn't come through yet. What is the current status of obtaining your work permit in England? Do you expect for that to be resolved shortly or at least before Villa's season starts?
Everyone is confident that the work permit will go through, but only time will tell.
Obviously American goalkeepers have a record of success in Europe, and England in particular. What do you think has led to this success? And, why has the US not had the same success with "field players"?
I think it is very tough for any player, field player or keeper to go to Europe and be successful. The level of play is very high and the quality of players is very good. Hopefully I can just follow in the footsteps of the great American players that have come before me and keep the doors open for other younger players as well.
It looks like Brad Friedel is going to move to Aston Villa as well. Do you know Brad? Have you talked with him about potentially being teammates? What have you two discussed? How would being his teammate benefit you?
I have only heard great things about Brad and given the chance to work with him, I think I can learn a lot. He is an outstanding keeper that has proven himself not only in Europe but on the international stage as well.
It seems that all American keepers abroad have to shave their heads, are you going to do the same?
We will cross that bridge when I get there.
A number of Americans have played and are playing in England now. Who have you spoken to about moving to England? What have they told you to expect? Has Brian McBride given you any tips? What are you most looking forward to if your move to Villa is finalized?
I have spoken to a lot of the European guys and everyone has just given me little tips here and there. Nothing specific, but just great advice. I'm looking forward to helping my team be successful in any way I can.
Martin O'Neill is a very highly rated manager. Did you speak to him before agreeing to the transfer? What did he say and did he tell you what his plans for you were? Do you think you will see much first team action this season?
I have spoken to the manager and like in any situation, I'm going to go in, work hard, learn as much as I can and try to get better.
What do you think of the Olympic outfits you received on Thursday? Are you styling?
The outfits are pretty cool. [Ed. Note: The picture to the right from Guest of a Guest are leaked images of the Ralph Lauren Opening Ceremony duds.]
There is some debate in soccer circles about the benefit of American players going to Europe and leaving MLS behind. Some think it may be good for the individual players but is detrimental to MLS. Would you agree or disagree with this position?
I think each situation is different and has to be looked that way. Ultimately it comes down to the player making that decision. I think the MLS is getting better and the level of play is better, but still compared to the top leagues in Europe it still has a way to go.