You may have noticed a new face between the sticks when the U.S. Men’s National Team played Cuba in a historic friendly match last October. The tall blond that came up with three saves and a clean sheet was none other than Ethan Horvath, born and raised in Highlands Ranch. “You’ll never forget your debut match, and it was actually a pretty historic match, being the first game in Cuba. I’ll never forget that,” Horvath said about that day.
No stranger to representing the United States, Horvath has been a part of the system since the U-14 squad, and has been called up to every team since then. He most recently played in Colorado back in 2015 with Colorado Rapids midfielder and fellow Coloradoan Dillon Serna. “The last time I was here was with the U-23s with the Olympic team vs. Panama,” Horvath said. “That was my first time [playing in Colorado], but it’s even more special now because I’m with the full men’s national team. It’s been a long way since U-14 for me.”
The former Arapahoe High School and Real Colorado goalkeeper started his professional career alongside Rapids midfielder Josh Gatt. The boys went on a tour in Europe with the Orange County Blue Stars and were both scouted by the Norwegian club Molde. Gatt ended up playing for Molde from 2011-2016 before coming back to MLS in 2017, and Horvath played for Molde from 2013-2016. This past January, Horvath signed a 4.5-year contract with Club Brugge in Belgium.
I asked Horvath about making the choice to go play in Europe instead of staying in the States, and he told me that “before I went to Molde, I was thinking about joining the Rapids. It was just always my dream to play in Europe, waking up and watching Premier League and everything. You never count out MLS, but I figured let’s just give this year a shot and see where it goes and where it takes me. Luckily enough, I’ve been really successful so far.”
Horvath started his first game for Club Brugge on May 5th in the Championship playoffs, and even got himself an assist off of a punt to teammate José Izquierdo. His team won, and Horvath continued to start, helping his club earn a spot in the third qualifying round of the 2017-2018 UEFA Champions League.
While the 21-year-old may not have a World Cup Qualifier under his belt (yet), USMNT Head Coach Bruce Arena thinks he has a bright future.
“This is my first time working with him [Horvath] and I followed him from a distance as an MLS coach. Now as a national team coach, we’ve evaluated our goalkeeper pool,” Arena explained. “I was well-aware of Ethan this year and spoke with him before his transfer to his club in Belgium. We knew about his potential and he ended his club season in good form.”
Horvath is thankful for the opportunity to work with players like Nick Rimando, Tim Howard, and Brad Guzan. “You gain experience every day, just on and off the field - I’m lucky,” he said. “This is my first camp with Nick, and I was lucky enough to have been in a few camps with Tim and Brad, so I’ve learned a ton from these guys.”
While Tim Howard is the current #1 goalkeeper choice in this June camp, Arena is definitely keeping his eye on Horvath, who former USMNT Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann called one of his “biggest hopes for the future” as a goalkeeper.
Arena hopes that Horvath will continue to gain confidence so that he can work his way into a bigger role for both his club and country.
“We have some older goalkeepers in camp, and we’re starting to develop our younger pool of goalkeepers, and certainly Ethan is one of those,” Arena said. “He should be able to go back to his club in Belgium after this and have the confidence to compete and secure the #1 position, then position himself to challenge for a spot on a World Cup roster if we make it there in 2018.”