USMNT Daily Update: Howard will be missed this month, but goalkeeper spot in good hands with Guzan

Tim Howard, Brad Guzan

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By IVES GALARCEP

The initial reaction among U.S. Men’s National Team fans to the news of Tim Howard’s current injury was understandable. Shock and fear seemed a normal way to respond to the news that Howard would likely miss this month’s World Cup qualifiers considering Howard has started virtually every important U.S. match since Kasey Keller retired.

Not having Howard to take on Costa Rica and Mexico is certainly a big blow, but the U.S. team is better equipped to deal with Howard’s absence now than it has been for several years. Why? Guzan has gone from perennial back-up to standout starter for Aston Villa, and has spent a season impressing in goal for the Villans. He still hasn’t played all that much in a U.S. uniform in the past two years, but he does have some pretty important national team games on his resume.

From his start in goal in the U.S. team’s important 3-0 Confederations Cup victory against Egypt in 2009, to his play in a difficult 2-2 draw on the road in World Cup qualifying vs. El Salvador that same year, Guzan has provided some strong performances in goal, even if most of them came as many as four years ago.

The encouraging part isn’t just that Guzan has done well for the national team before, but that he did it before he had established himself as a regular English Premier League starter.

In short, Guzan is playing the best soccer of his life and is better-equipped to take on important national team games than he has ever been before.

The U.S. could do much worse than Guzan for a back-up goalkeeper, but that doesn’t mean the Americans aren’t losing something in the tradeoff from Howard. The Everton star has much more experience organizing defenses and leading the current stable of American defenders. He has faced Costa Rica and Mexico several times before, and recorded multiple shutout victories against ‘El Tri’.

Howard’s experience is also vital in helping lead a defense that doesn’t have experience playing together. Fabian Johnson, Timmy Chandler, Geoff Cameron and Omar Gonzalez are all new to the Hexagonal Round of World Cup qualifying. Last month’s loss to Honduras was the first HEX game for each of them.

Guzan has gained his share of experience playing behind an inexperienced defense with Aston Villa, and he isn’t likely to be shy about letting his defenders know where they need to be. That said, he hasn’t played in meaningful matches with the U.S. defense he will likely be taking the field with in qualifying later this month and that lack of familiarity could be an issue in qualifying.

There is little denying the fact that Guzan has been playing very well for Aston Villa, and you will even hear some suggest that Guzan has been in better form than Howard this year. The suggestion is a stretch, but an understandable notion given all the saves Guzan has to make on a regular basis. It is easier to put a highlight reel together when you’re facing tough shots in bunches. That is Guzan’s reality with Aston Villa, but not Howard’s reality on a stronger Everton side.

Howard won’t always be the U.S. starting goalkeeper, and perhaps there was some symbolism in the fact that the first injury of any real significance took place just before his 34th birthday, which he celebrated on Wednesday. But Howard’s injury, and the opportunity it is presenting Guzan isn’t a changing of the guard or a passing of the torch. That time isn’t here just yet.

What Howard’s injury will do is give Guzan a chance to show just how far he has come as a goalkeeper since becoming a full-time starter in England, and an opportunity to show that Guzan is more than capable of being the No. 1 when called upon.

This entry was posted in Featured, U.S. Men's National Team, USMNT Daily Update. Bookmark the permalink.

72 Responses to USMNT Daily Update: Howard will be missed this month, but goalkeeper spot in good hands with Guzan

  1. Falsify says:

    I’d prefer Howard but Guzan gets the nod.

  2. Good Jeremy says:

    Is it really that much of a stretch to say Guzan is in better form? Howard is prone to mental lapses in big moments, like being beat from almost 30 out against Slovenia on a shot over his head, or getting beat near side on a shot outside the box against Ghana. His reliance on athleticism is hurting him now that he’s on the wrong side of 30. Guzan has been crushing it this year from everything I have heard.

    Having said that, I would want Howard in goal for the Azteca game.

    • meowmix says:

      I agree. Controversial as it sounds, I really think Guzan is a better keeper. His positioning and consistency to me seems better, and I think his reactions are just as good.

      • PD says:

        If all you use to define the GK position is shot stopping then Dan Kenndy or Bill Hamid should be out #1. The position is 90% about what you do to prevent the shot from needing to be stopped. Make a case for Guzan being more effective at that and people will start to take your theory more seriously.

        • biff says:

          With all due respect, PD, I do not follow your logic.

          • GW says:

            If the defense is awful there is only so much even the greatest keeper can do.

            Neuer probably couldn’t lead Chivas USA to the MLS Cup.

            Nevertheless over the short term and WC qualifying games are short term, a solid keeper can pull you through and a shaky one will get you eliminated

            A great keeper is like a machine. Everything should be automatic. Goalkeeping is mostly about doing all the routine, fundamental things well as consistently as possible. This constant focus and concentration is what separates the great from the good.

            Every once in a while the defense will give the other team an opportunity to shoot on goal. If the keeper is paying attention and is positioned well (he should be constantly considering the possibilities) he should be okay.

            If not then he may have to make an acrobatic stop to save the situation. David James, former England keeper, once said that an acrobatic save often means you probably screwed up somewhere along the line before the shot.

            If the other team never gets a dangerous shot off it could be they aren’t very good, your defense is great or that your keeper positions himself so well that every shot is harmless.

            Since 2009 Howard’s concentration has been questionable. While this is not the best time to be addressing it, it will be interesting to see what difference, for example, on set pieces, if any, Guzan can make.

          • Big Red says:

            Dude, meomix is right. I’m a goalkeeper and 90% of goalkeeping is positioning. Howard makes up for his bad positioning by being athletic and his saves look incredible but he wouldn’t need to make his saves look so crazy if he was standing in the right place. I’ve been waiting for Howard to get replaced. That second Honduran goal was his fault last month but everyone seemed to blame it on the defense. It’s well known that Howard makes huge mistakes in big games, why do you think Manchester got rid of him?

      • ronniet says:

        As previously stated by ives in the lead up to commenting, it’s easier for people to say that Guzan has looked better because his team is givivng up a ton of shots on goal so in essence he’s been far busier between the pipes than Tmmie has! Let’s not get carried away now, Timmie is the better keeper at this stage and with him just turning 34 he’s in the prime of his career!

  3. HansomeJake says:

    We’ve always had great keepers. In the beginning of the season the US had 3 keepers starting in the EPL. It stayed that way until a 25 yr old FFF starting keeper replaced a 41 year old non USMNT keeper. Friedel was one of the best keeper in the EPL for many seasons, so is Howard and Guzan is showing it’s no big deal to be a successful American Keeper in the EPL…we’re Americans, we’ve been playing sports with heavy hand-eye coordination requirements our entire lives.

  4. Ryan in NYC by way of NC says:

    Do we have the best stable of keepers in the world? If not, which national team does?

    • Good Jeremy says:

      Spain, Spain, Germany, Spain, and Brazil probable have the best 1-2 tandems but we’re not far behind any of them except Spain’s first two.

      • Ryan says:

        Brazil? I’ll take Howard and El Guzano over Cesar and Diego Alves.

        • Jamie Z. says:

          Germany, Spain, and Brazil as mentioned, and Netherlands and Italy have impressive depth, as well. England have better options than their media will admit. We’re not hurting at the position, by any means — in fact, when viewing our player pool as a whole, we are disproportionally strong at the position — but I don’t think we’re leading the global pack, either. Top 10, for sure. Top 5, possibly. Top 3, probably not. Either way, we’ve got nothing to worry about at the moment.

      • The Garrincha says:

        So good jeremy,
        in essence from what you wrote it is fair to say that the USMNT,
        has as good a stable of Keeps as the top 3 or 4 teams in the world.
        Can’t reasonably be much better. Not too worried about GK, for now.
        I guess we will find out how well he does.
        Even Friedel just posted a shut out against Inter Milan in Europa,
        that’s quality as well.

  5. Adam in Cali says:

    Dont forget about the fact that Howard was the captain in the Honduras match. Without Howard, Donovan, and (perhaps) Boca, it HAS to go to Bradley, right?

    • Good Jeremy says:

      No! If his dad wasn’t coach he wouldn’t even be called up.

    • Jake says:

      Once Bradley takes the captaincy, he’ll prove that he deserves to keep it. That’s the big changing of the guard that will take place in a couple of weeks.

      • biff says:

        No way. I think Klinsmann is not smart enough not to name Michael Bradley captain at this point. Too much history and tension there from back when he was Baby Bradley with his dad the coach and it would be flirting with danger. I see the band going to Clint Dempsey or Jermaine Jones, who has already served as captain. And Landon Donovan will be back soon and he is far ahead of MB for the captain’s band. MB will get his chance after WC 2014.

        • malkin says:

          What makes you think there’s “tension and history” with the fact his dad used to be the coach?

          • Alex says:

            Made up drama from people who like to pretend to know what’s going on behind the scenes.

          • biff says:

            I see that an earlier comment of mine was deleted in moderation. Maybe because of a link I had to a SI story. I will leave the link out this time, but can be found doing an internet search using key words *Eric Wynalda Michael Bradley

            Just want to say I’m not making up drama. I have no doubt there was tension now and then, as well some grumbling among some players. Like Eric Wynalda said: “”That locker room will never be normal.” And there are still players on the USMNT who are were around back then in that locker room and are still senior to MB. All I am saying is that until they are gone, I don’t think it would be wise to name MB captain.

            • GW says:

              Wynalda?

              Does anyone have reservations about using him as a USMNT locker room source?

              I don’t know how JK does it but in many places the captain is chosen with a great deal of input from the players if not entirely by the players.

              After all in many cases he will be the conduit between the manager and the players.

              Mikey would be a fine captain but so would a number of others.

              At this point, the US has many more pressing issues.

              Just give it tothe tallest

        • Amru says:

          I agree with biff but for different reasons. I can easily see klinsmann giving the armband to Jones or Dempsey, which would be a mistake because anyone with eyes can see that this is becoming Bradley’s team.

          • GW says:

            You’d have to be in the locker room to know that.

          • biff says:

            @Amru: Can you give some examples of how this is becoming MB’s team? I don’t see that at all. I think there are other personalities on this team that command as much if not more respect and probably fit in better with other teammates.. such as Clint and Jermaine.

            • beachbum says:

              why do they fit in better with other teammates biff?

            • Amru says:

              Because how Bradley plays is usually a pretty good indicator of how the team plays. He puts the team on his back when we need a boost and lifts the play of those around him. While Clint and Jermaine are great players they don’t influence the game like MB90 does or that’s my opinion anyway.

              • GW says:

                biff,

                One could easily say that Mikey plays at the level the team the team is playing at rather than the other way around. .

                All the US needed to tie Honduras was for one guy to make a play. I didn’t see Mikey do that or help anyone do that.

                In the last six years or so the only guy I’ve ever seen take this team, put it on his back and lead them to a win is Landon and maybe Charlie Davies.

                Mikey is a timekeeper, an organizer, but not a game changer nor a difference maker. By which I mean if the team is going to play at a C level he can keep it from slipping back to a D but won’t necessarily raise them to a B level.

                Mikey is the Stabilizer.Dolo, Boca and Howard used to bethat as well but not lately.

                Jones is the Enforcer, Clint is the Terminator and Donovan is still the Difference Maker.

        • Jim Morrison says:

          What makes you think that LD is coming back and if so that naming him captain is going to help out the team chemistry

          You are kinda right about “tensio” between JK and MB. It is more like JK is afraid of MB and SG won’t even look MB in the eyes.
          Got that from two different sources in the locker room

  6. robo johnson says:

    no disrespect to howard, but guzan is a fine replacement.. Its dempsey i’m worried about no one will replae him on this team

    • Good Jeremy says:

      ditto Donovan.

    • beto says:

      +1 i am confident with either, interested to see how good Guzan is with the national team, we are certainly blessed at GK. Inconsistant play or injuries to Castillo, F. Johnson, Cameron and Dempsey is what I am worried about..

  7. knife fight says:

    when are Sean Johnson, Bill Hamid, Zac MacMath and Ryan Meara heading to Europe?

    • Joemybro says:

      Not sure about Kennedy, but the other 3 are so young that its probably best if they stay in MLS as starters, get 30+games per season for a few more years rather than go to Europe and be backups. If they were reasonably sure of challenging for starts at a club, that’s a different story.

  8. Andy says:

    I’m more worried about replacing Dempsey. Would like to see Corona get the call. Or at least someone that can attack with a little flair and danger.

    Or this could open up for a fourth defensive mid in the starting lineup!

  9. Jamie Z. says:

    Was “shock and fear” a typical impression? Based on the responses I’ve seen, the median reaction was something along the lines of, “It’s a pity to lose Howard, but Guzan has been a stud this year for Villa. It’d probably do him some good to see some time with the national team, anyway.”

  10. PD says:

    The main concern to me is cohesion. The news about Howard is just another staw on the camel’s back. No Boca, No Cherundolo, No Howard, No Dempsey (maybe), no Donovan all adds up to a unit that has very little history, very little understanding of each other’s tendencies, all being led by a coach that still seems to no appreciate the challenge of playing in CONCACAF.

    Anyone who isn’t really concerned about these next two matches, especially given the fact of what happened in Hobduras, isn’t really paying attention.

  11. matt says:

    yay! no more long shots let in…howards one ridiculous weakness.

  12. Donovan Robertson says:

    Guys, this may be a blessing to this team. I have mentioned before but the USA needs to switch keepers. Howard has not been at his best for the past two years. The Commentators and Journalists have been impressed by Guzan all year. We will be just fine without Howard.

  13. ACS says:

    The USMNT will be fine, Everton not so much.

  14. rdnanez says:

    I say since its our centennial year we do a throwback and call in the other brad. Brad friedel that is. Would be cool and nostalgic to see

    • beto says:

      haha, the 100 year old Brad Friedel? still doing well for Spurs the other day vs. Inter but id still take Guzano

    • David M says:

      Friedel has said he would come out of retirement and play. Guzan, of course, should be starting, but Friedel on the bench is darn good option.

  15. wilyboy says:

    It’s an uneasy time for this to happen, to be sure. However, we needed to bloody Guzan sometime.

  16. bryan says:

    castillo, howard, f. johnson, castillo, donovan, dolo, and dempsey are all going to be out. great. this is becoming a mess.

    • Alex says:

      Castillo may be back in time. Johnson played yesterday. Other than that, you’re right, but I thought I’d point that out. I wouldn’t mind seeing those two patrol the left side together, while we’re on the point of those two players. They can both play both positions on the left (back and mid) and it could be fun to watch them interchange.

  17. BSU SC says:

    Knowing Klinsmann, he will probably bench Guzan and give the starting spot to the goalie who started for Colorado last week because he sees “potential” in him.

  18. Roman Lewandowski says:

    What is Dempsey’s situation?

  19. Donovan Robertson says:

    BSU SC, you are so correct. Klinsman and the word logical cannot be used in the same sentence. He has created confusion among his players where ever he has been. Thats why he got let go by Bayern Munich. Neither he nor the clowns that surround him know what the heck they are doing. I was the u20 and was impressed with how the Team played. I hope Klinsman was taking notes.

  20. MA1 Rodriguez says:

    Guzan needed play more friendlies against top teams, but too late now. Just image this happend before the World Cup.

  21. Gary Page says:

    Did anyone see that Aston Villa game today? I missed the first 50 minutes, but the last 40 minutes was symptomatic of the Aston Villa defense. They are absolutely terrible, leaving guys unmarked all the time. And their clearances are usually atrocious. They don’t seem to know you are supposed to clear to the sides, not the middle. Amazing. And yet the only goal they gave up was an own goal when the defender at the post absolutely scuffed a shot. If Guzan can thrive with the AV defense, he’ll do okay with the National Team. It’s the US back line that’s the scary part since they have played so little together and Chandler hardly at all. Then there’s the midfield which can’t seem to get the ball to the forwards. No, GK is the least of our problems.

  22. marky mark says:

    Nick rimando is totally undervalued.

    • MiamiAl says:

      +1

      Rimando has been in some big games including MLS and CONCACAF Champions League finals.

  23. Riggity says:

    Enough about Rimando…he’s solid but there is a reason he never played in Europe. If we didnt call Friedel before Rimando it would be a travesty. The guy is 5’9, I have heard people say “…the people who comment about his height don’t know what they are talking about…” HA more like the people who write that are biased Rimando fans. The guy is a really solid keeper but his name shouldnt be mentioned when we have “The Brad’s” waiting in the wings.

  24. Thomas says:

    Guzan knows how to win a game with an inexperienced defense which the USMNT might have during the next two WCQ. With the current injuries Klinsmann’s defense will probably look like this:
    Spector, or Torres at LB and Cameron and Gonzalez at CB and Chandler at RB.

  25. Rakesh says:

    My 2 cents guys: Our D is taking a helluva strain now with this injury. Backline looks thin and I love Guzan, but kinda hectic to see him start at the Azteca (should be fine though, it’s just hard to picture a starting line-up without Howard playing Mexico AWAY, especially after his heroics there last August) With Cherundolo and Castillo out, Bocanegra MUST start, right?! He’s our captain and will provide the necessary leadership and experience

  26. Rakesh says:

    On a separate note (GK’s aside) what do you guys think of this starting line-up for future games?
    (all players fit and available of course)
    Howard
    Pearce-Bocanegra-Cameron-Cherundolo
    F Johnson-Bradley-Jones-Chandler
    Donovan-Dempsey

    Fabian and Timmy play as flank midfielders, not true wingers. They run at the opposition and supply through balls to our leading scorer (Donovan) and currently our most dangerous player (Dempsey) JJ plays D-mid and Bradly is box-to-box. We don’t have a McBride as target forward anymore, neither do we have a Eddie Lewis to supply dipping, pinpoint crosses. But we will get some width, and there isn’t any midfield congestion.

    Everyone’s gonna nail me about Heath Pearce but I figure he is experienced, pretty solid defensively and formed part of a formidable backline during the last WC cycle (Pearce-Bocanegra-Onyewy/DeMerit-Cherundolo) He’s played in hostile environments before and does have a left boot to whip in the odd long ball or cross. He’s got pace still and can help the attack, while allowing Fabian to play his more preferred role as a midfielder. The backline gets a speed and experience upgrade, plus it finally has a true left-footed defender playing the LB role

    Shea, Gomez, Guzan, Edu, Gonzalez and Holden on the bench

    Rimando, Altidore, Beasley, Torres, Zusi, Boyd, Feilhaber or Kljestan to complete a 23-man roster

  27. Dennis says:

    Except for MLS, it’s been kind of a slow weekend for USMNT players, Bradley and Jones are suspended, Howard, Dempsey, Castilla, F. Johnson and Cherundolo are injured. Except for the Mexican and MLS based players, I think only Guzan was in a televised game in the USA.

  28. the unmistakeable Ronaldinho says:

    The prospect of playing the US without Donovan, Dempsey and Howard must have Costa Rica and Mexico dying to get out there. Has there been a time in the last decade where we have looked weaker?