For the past several years, Tim Howard and Brad Guzan have gone back and forth as U.S. Men’s National Team starter. With both in camp for the first time under Bruce Arena, though, it was time for the head coach to make his initial decision ahead of World Cup qualifiers.
Arena told reporters Monday that Howard has been named USMNT starter ahead of the upcoming slate of World Cup qualifiers. The U.S. is set to take on Trinidad & Tobago and Mexico in June’s World Cup qualifiers and, just one day after opening camp, Arena put any controversy to bed by naming his No. 1.
“As of now it’s Tim Howard,” Arena said Monday. “He had two good games (in March) and we’ll have to see how these guys look over the next couple of weeks. We have good goalkeepers here so that’s the least of my worries.”
Howard and Guzan are joined on the roster by veteran Nick Rimando and up-and-comer Ethan Horvath, the latter of whom is fresh off a solid series of matches with Club Brugge. However, Howard and Guzan were always pegged as the competitors for the starting nod.
Previously absent due to the birth of his child, Guzan missed out on March qualifiers, making the ongoing camp his first under Arena. Howard, meanwhile, assumed the role of starter in the March matches, which produced four vital points for the U.S.
Howard’s Colorado Rapids have struggled as of late, but, personally, the goalkeeper is off to a strong start after returning from an injury suffered last November against Mexico.
“I feel great,” Howard said. “My body’s been getting stronger week by week as I came out of preseason. I feel good about where I’m at, and how I feel physically obviously that’s the most important thing. The soccer is the soccer, and the goalkeeping is natural for me now at my age.
“If I have the honor of representing my country, and I say it all the time, it probably sounds like lip service but outside of my kids it’s the greatest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” he added, “so it means the world to make it on the field, and put that shirt on and try to lead this team and perform well.”