October 16, 2015
By Michael Lewis
WHICH ONE IS THE KEEPER?
Jurgen faces important decision between Howard, Guzan before WCQ begins next month
HARRISON, N.J. -- When the United States begins its qualifying run for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, coach Jurgen Klinsmann will face a important decision.
Tim Howard: "I think the reality is you’ve got two good goalkeepers. I would like to get my fair shot. I think he’ll give myself and Brad a fair shot."
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Which goalkeeper will he use? Will it be Tim Howard or Brad Guzan?
For the first time in 15 months, Howard played for the USA in its 1-0 international friendly loss to Costa Rica Tuesday night.
Howard, 36, who took a self-imposed sabbatical after a standout performance at the 2014 World Cup, acquitted himself well. He made four saves, although he could not stop Ticos striker Joel Campbell from scoring in the 70th minute at Red Bull Arena.
Klinsmann liked what he had seen in the Everton keeper's first international appearance since he made 16 saves in one of the great World Cup performances in a 2-1 extratime loss to Belgium in a Round of 16 match in Salvador, Brazil on July 1, 2014.
Since then Guzan had assumed the No. 1 spot.
"He obviously deserved to start tonight," Klinsmann said of Howard. "The 14-15 months [he was away] Brad Guzan did an excellent job. ... They'll probably rotate. We'll make a decision where one starts over the other. They're two outstanding characters. They're very, very even."
The USA will open the CONCACAF fourth round of qualifying against St. Vincent and the Grenadines in St. Louis November 13 before playing at Trinidad & Tobago November 17.
"Both keepers are so experienced. They’ve been with the national team so long and they’re used to adjusting to the situation," Klinsmann said. "They know that it’s a tough one now for the coach. Every time a game comes up, I will talk to them and explain my thoughts. That’s why it’s important to go along with both into the future.”
Howard said he was ready for the challenge.
“I’d like to play every game. Brad would like to play every game," he said. "I think the reality is you’ve got two good goalkeepers. I would like to get my fair shot. I think he’ll give myself and Brad a fair shot. ... I think it’ll be fine. There’s no problem. Brad and I compete well, we get along well. I’m there for him, he’s there for me.”
As for the team's recent poor performances, Howard said that he wasn't concerned about the results.
“You have to take the good with the bad," he said. "We’ve been on a good run for the last couple years, and I think the year after the World Cup you’re allowed to experiment. That’s the time to do it. Yeah, the Gold Cup means a lot. You get to the Confed Cup, but we’ve got to try new things."
Especially with World Cup qualifying looming.
"Every cycle is a rebirth," Howard said. "You have to shake things up, you have to try new players, other players get older, some of your best players who are top dogs today are going to be old as dirt in 2018 and not going to be able to perform. There’s that balance of getting things right today vs. trying to bleed new guys in.
"It’s not doom and gloom. I think we’re a good team and I think in this region, we’re going to qualify for a World Cup. It’s not going to be easy, it’s not going to be hard as heck, but we’ll figure it out and get the balance right.”