The 30-year-old has made the most of that opportunity by starting every game in the club’s inaugural season, recording a pair of clean sheets, making a highlight penalty kick save against Chicharito, and proving himself as a No. 1 keeper in the MLS.
Brad Stuver spends years as backup keeper
After his final season at Cleveland State, the Montreal Impact selected Stuver as the 32nd overall pick in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft. He never played a minute for the Impact. Instead, the MLS signed him as a pool goalkeeper — meaning any MLS team could call him up in an emergency — and so his circuitous journey began.
Despite spending most of his time training with the Columbus Crew that first season, Stuver was on the roster for Chivas USA and New England Revolution, and he also trained with Real Salt Lake. From 2014-17, he split time between the Crew and being on loan with two teams in the USL. He made a total of seven appearances with the Crew, including twice in the MLS and five in U.S. Open Cup.
In 2018, Stuver moved to New York City FC but once again saw limited action. In three seasons, he made a total of seven MLS appearances and three appearances in U.S. Open Cup.
Stuver talks about his first season as a starter with Austin FC
Coming into his first season in Austin, Brad Stuver knew it was going to be a challenge to ascend to the top spot with the team also signing veteran Andrew Tarbell, who started for the San Jose Earthquakes in 2018 and made seven appearances last season with Stuver’s former club in Columbus.
Stuver said Wolff informed him and Tarbell just a few days before the season opener at LAFC that he was going to start that first game but it was still very much a competition between the two keepers.
Not surprisingly, after years of patiently waiting for this opportunity, Stuver admitted it was an emotional moment.
“It was very difficult for me to contain my excitement,” Stuver told reporters. “This is my ninth year as a pro. I was very excited to finally get an opportunity to get the nod on the first game day. It was very justifying, just because I’ve worked so hard for so long and it was awesome.”
Austin FC coach Josh Wolff very pleased with his keeper’s performance
Since that season opener, Brad Stuver has not relinquished the starting job. In seven games, he’s only surrendered eight total goals and has impressively posted a pair of clean sheets against Minnesota and Seattle, one of the top offensive teams in the league.
Wolff has understandably been very pleased with the performance of his keeper in his first full year as a starter.
“His performance has been fantastic,” Wolff said. “For Brad, he’s never had that chance to be the out and out starter, and that was part of the idea of coming here. These two guys could compete for it. I think he certainly edged out Andrew through preseason, and he’s taken it and run with it, to some degree. His performance, his calmness in goal, playing through pressure, making good decisions when we want to play long or when we can play short. And just his shot-stopping. That’s something that’s probably stood out the most. He’s made some very good saves, kept us in some games.”
One of Stuver’s and the team’s first-season highlights came during the fifth game of the season in LA when he made a spectacular one-handed save on a penalty kick by Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez. It still wasn’t enough as the team lost 2-0, but it showed Stuver’s quality.
And more important than anything else, it showed he belongs.