The USMNT won the CONCACAF Nations League Champions in dramatic fashion at the last moment on Sunday evening. Hopefully, all young players were watching the grit and desire of our senior team and they fought their way back twice to secure the win. They could have dropped their heads any number of times but they didn’t, and they showed, for the first time in quite a while a passion to win.
How many fans and players thought we were in trouble when Jax Steffen left the game due to injury? He has been the defacto #1 for the US lately, and has proven he is a strong choice. He gained valuable experience with Man City this year, and although he’s been the #2 behind Ederson, I think he is continuing to develop into a solid keeper. So, when he left the game, Evan Horvath was called in to solidify the back line. Horvath plays at Club Brugge in Belgium, and is the #2 behind legend Simon Minolet. Evan hasn’t gotten seen much time this past season for the team, but having seen him play in the past, I knew he was a capable GK.
He immediately had an impact on the game making several key saves and distributing the ball accurately. Who would have thought in such a pressure filled championship match against our biggest CONCACAF rival our #2 keeper would save the day for us? I surely didn’t. Horvath has always appeared to be a very even tempered keeper – riding the highs and lows of a game with poise. Lining up against one of Mexico’s most seasoned veterans for the potential game-tying PK, he had to have been feeling the weight of his teammates and his country on his shoulders. Diving low to his right side, he dug the shot out and immediately recovered, directing his players into proper shape. As the game ended, he collapsed on his back shedding some well deserved tears of joy as his teammates dog-piled him.
The lesson for all young keepers is to not give up but continue to work hard whether your the number 1, 2 or 3 on your team. You never know when you will be called upon to do your job to the best of your ability. I’m sure Evan wanted to be the starter for such an important game, but he maintained focus and was ready when he was called on. The job of the #2 is to push the starter to stay focused and in good form. You need to be ready at any moment to step in and take control of the team. You can’t switch off and take a mental break when you are #2. You should be constantly evaluating the game as if you were on the field to see what you would be doing in each situation. There may be things you see to help the GK on the field that will help the team break pressure. Just because you’re not on the field, doesn’t mean you have the day off. Keep engaged!
Evan Horvath showed the soccer world he was ready and rose to the challenge of coming in off the bench to help the US raise it’s first trophy since the 2017 Gold Cup. Being #2 still means you need to be ready and his performance was top-class!