by GIANFRANCO PANIZO
As the United States national team prepares for its second World Cup qualifier of the Hexagonal against El Salvador on Saturday (9 PM et. ESPN2), one of the positions in the starting eleven that could be up for grabs is goalkeeper.
When Tim Howard received a yellow card for "time wasting" after getting karate-kicked by Rafael Marquez in the United States' 2-0 win over Mexico in February, most U.S. fans assumed Brad Guzan would step in for Bob Bradley against los cuscatlecos. Now, with a healthy and in-form Marcus Hahnemann back in the national team fray, the decision is not so simple.
Guzan, for all the talent he has, is still a young and relatively inexperienced goalkeeper who has made only the occasional start for Aston Villa. His lack of playing time could cost him against Hahnemann, who has recently returned from injury to regain his starting role for Reading.
Hahnemann has played in 25 league games this season, notching a 15-7-8 record in the process. His 11 shutouts has Reading in prime position to gain promotion to the Premiership and his constant playing time may be enough to persuade Bradley to give him the start.
So Hahnemann should get the start, right? Not necessarily.
Hahnemann, who is touted as having loads of experience, lacks familiarity with the current crop of United States players and that could be reason enough to leave him on the bench in San Salvador.
The Reading goalkeeper has only played once under Bradley and that was back in October 2007 in a 1-0 victory over Switzerland. Hahnemann played only 45 minutes that day and was replaced at half-time by Guzan.
During Bradley's two-year term, Guzan has played in more games (11) than Hahnemann (6) has in his entire career with the United States national team.
So does Bradley go with the in-form veteran or do you go with the promising youngster who is more familiar with the squad? A strong case can be made for either goalkeeper and the depth that the two provide is certainly a positive for American fans.
What do you think of the goalkeeper situation? Are you worried by Howard's absence? Think Guzan gets the call, or will Hahnemann's playing time convince Bradley to select him? Who would you start against El Salvador?
Share your thoughts below.