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An unlikely mentor: USMNT keeper Ethan Horvath says that Bayern Munich Manuel Neuer is a good friend

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The CONCACAF Nations League Final had numerous connections to the Bundesliga

United States v Mexico: Championship - CONCACAF Nations League Finals Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Before Sunday, Ethan Horvath wasn’t exactly a household name – even in the United States where he has been a mainstay in callups to the national team. However, the young Club Brugge goalkeeper became the unlikely hero when the United States took on their fierce rivals Mexico in the CONCACAF Nations League Final. Coming off the bench, Horvath saved a penalty deep in stoppage time of extra time to preserve the win for the US.

Now you may ask, why is a blog covering Bayern Munich and German soccer talking about this five days after it happens? According to multiple sources on Twitter and the popular podcast duo, The Cooligans (begins around 31:50), Ethan Horvath considers Manuel Neuer to be a mentor. In an interview from 2019, Horvath said:

“Manuel Neuer gives me advice via WhatsApp. He’s always been my role model, but he’s very kind & humble. Thanks to my sponsor Adidas we met up in Qatar. We ended up talking for 2 1/2 hours. Not just football but our lives, our dogs, his wife & my girl. We talked a lot since. If I want advice, I turn to him. Sometimes I’ll send him a video & ask what he thinks — it helps a lot. I’m a perfectionist, but you realize as you get older that’s impossible. You meet guys like Neuer & realize keepers make mistakes. You try to keep the ball out of the net and that’s all you can do. ‘Try to make the most of whatever comes your way,’ is a piece of advice Neuer always gives me. If you stop the ball or make a world-class save, it doesn’t matter.”

Besides Horvath’s connection to Neuer, there were plenty of Bundesliga connections. Horvath started on the bench behind former Dusseldorf keeper, Zack Steffen. Horvath came into the match in the 58th minute to a game tied 1-1 – a first minute goal from Mexico was countered by Borussia Dortmund’s Gio Reyna. After conceding a goal in the 78th minute, former Schalke midfielder Weston McKennie equalized again in the 82nd, forcing extra time.

After conceding the first goal, Horvath came up big again and again – making numerous big saves. In the 108th minute, former Eintracht Frankfurt defender, Carlos Salcedo brought down Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic in the box. The ex-Borussia Dortmund player stepped to the spot and converted to take the lead.