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Howard, Guzan likely to split time at goalkeeper for USMNT in near future

Tim Howard Brad Guzan Collage



HARRISON, N.J. —On Saturday, it was Brad Guzan. On Tuesday, it was Tim Howard.

Going forward, it will probably be a combination of both.

That was the message put forth by Jurgen Klinsmann in the aftermath of the U.S. Men’s National Team’s 1-0 defeat to Costa Rica on Tueday night, a friendly match that represented Howard’s first start since his now-famous performance against Belgium in last year’s World Cup.

Howard stepped away from the national team after that tournament, paving the way for Guzan’s emergence as the No.1. Now back in the fold, Howard is set to split time with Guzan as the U.S. prepares for World Cup qualifying.

“(Howard) absolutely deserved to start tonight,” U.S. head coach Klinsmann said. “He took his break and he came back and put himself in a waiting spot. Through the whole 14 or 15 months, Brad Guzan did an excellent job. We have two exceptional international caliber goalkeepers. We need both of them. We need both of them on board.

“That’s what I told them and going forward they will probably rotate. There will come a decision if we play Copa America or Gold Cup or whatever comes up where one starts over the other.

“For us coaches, it’s extremely important to have both of them. I cannot afford to lose one of them because he’s not getting his games or he gets frustrated. They are two outstanding characters. They are givers, both of them. They respect each other 1,000 percent and they help each other. Whoever is in a backup role pushes the other one and so on. Our job is to keep both with us because, after that, there is a hole.”

For now at least, that situation is fine for Howard, a player that has represented the U.S. at three World Cups. Despite being in good form with Everton, Howard understands that he is competing with a fellow top-flight goalkeeper, one that will push him to get better every day.

Now, it’s about piecing together how it will all work. Who starts November’s World Cup qualifiers? Can either emerge as the true No. 1 then?

Those questions are left for Klinsmann, and, for the time being, Howard is content with leaving them unanswered.

“I’d like to play every game, Brad would like to play every game, but the reality is that I think we have two good goalkeepers,” Howard said. “I would like to get my fair shot. I think he will give myself and Brad a fair shot and I think as long as we’re playing week-in, week-out at Everton and (Aston) Villa, I think you talk about balance.”

With two quality goalkeepers at his disposal, Klinsmann is well aware that he has a wealth of riches. Many teams would be more than happy with just one of Guzan or Howard leading the charge on the international level.

Yet, Klinsmann has both, and the difficult decision of deciding who fits where and when.

“I think both goalkeepers are so experienced,” Klinsmann said. “They’ve both been so long with the national team. They are used to adjusting to the situation and they know it’s a tough one now for the coach. Every time a game comes up, I will talk with them. I will explain my thoughts. They are very, very even and you guys know that. That’s why it is important to go along with both into the future and for them to stay positive.”

Added Howard: “I think we’ll be fine. It’s no problem. Brad and I, we compete well. We get a long well. I’m there for him, he’s there for me. Nothing changes.”


  1. Blah blah just got a red card for abusing the third official in the Toronto /Red Bulls game. Blah blah was not even in the starting 11.

  2. I love altidore. Such a hard worker. The rest of the FW pool need to take notes. He’s here to stay. No one on the team plays with more commitment.

  3. Why didnt Howard just retire? He was no.1 for 7 straight years.

    Its Guzans time. Friedel knew when to retire and extended his club career. Keller played for years longer than his talent was at its peak. Hopefully Howard doesnt do the same

    • Me neither. I don’t even know where to begin. For starters, I have no idea why we are even focusing our attention on the goalkeeping question, with all the trainwrecks currently smoldering all over the rest of the pitch. We can stick Tally Hall’s grandma back there for all I care at the moment.

      • yeah, for me it’s a no-brainer. Howard is the starter until Guzan outplays him at the club level. one thing i have always thought is some of these defensive issues in the back come down to Howard no longer being back there. there is a chemistry between a GK and his backline. at the moment, i don’t see Guzan organizing his line well enough even with some of the changes. and i’ll never understand what he was thinking on both Jamaica goals.

    • That’s funny – i thought you were going to say, Juergen Klinsmann is to the USMNT what Bernie Sanders is to the Democrat party

    • cool so what are your thoughts on ‘the Nuclear race’, euthanasia, and ISIS……… since that’s why well came to SBI……a SOCCER blog……..

      politics… smh

      while you’re at it, what’s the solution to Global Warming? Wheat or White toast? Black or Pinto beans in your burrito? What’s the square root of Pi? Should Denzel have won an Oscer for his role in Glory? Who REALLY put the bomp in the bomp bah bomp bah bomp?…

    • Alright, I’ve settled down. The minuses are obvious. The plusses are that you can use Howard when you need a result while still building some degree of familiarity between players and Guzan, because given Howard’s age it is reasonable to think he might not be available in three years. The other part of what Klinsmann said is that after Howard and Guzan we have a ‘hole.’ I don’t think that’s true. I used to, but now don’t. After Howard we have a hole, and then we have a crop of second tier keepers. Does anyone really think there is much difference between Guzan and Hamid? Now, not a couple years ago – Hamid has worked to really minimize dumb mistakes. If anything, Hamid is arguably better. Less mistakes and even more athletic saves. Johnson is up there, too.

      • It weakens our chances in individual games where the second best keeper plays, and it assumes Guzan is still to be groomed as future 1 when this whole set of events hints maybe that should be reconsidered.

      • Yeah, was just trying to think of the best spin I could put on it. Platooning keepers just isn’t often (ever?) done.

      • That’s because you rarely have two keepers this equal.

        And it should be noted that when JK had two equally good keepers before, Kahn, the legend, and Lehmann the hot new guy,with Germany, he went with Lehmann because he felt he was better.

        That was not universally popular with everyone but please don’t tell me JK doesn’t know how to choose between keepers. And Lehmann was awesome.

        Howard is going well right now but that is largely because Guzan is pushing him.

        Take that away and he could easily revert to his previous inconsistent self.

        The situation makes both better.

      • “That’s because you rarely have two keepers this equal.”

        And that’s not the case now. Howard is clearly and demonstratively a better keeper. If i was grooming the heir-apparent, it probably would be Yarbrough who’s only 26.

      • “And that’s not the case now.”

        So you are saying the US would have beaten Mexico with Howard in goal?

        “Howard is clearly and demonstratively a better keeper”

        Friedel does not agree with you and he should know better than anyone.

        I like Yarbrough but the last I checked he lost his job at Leon.

      • That 3rd goal is the type of spectacular save that TH does – would he have, who knows – mexico was the better team, and the better team won the night

        Mad respect for Friedel, but we both know that he and TH don’t like each other – if BF said that BG is stronger than TH, i missed it, and he’s wrong.

        Martinez is solid, but WY will get his shot. Let’s remember that BG lost his spot at AV for awhile and was still our number “2”

      • dave,

        Clearly you didn’t see Timmy’s lame performance in the 2010 World Cup.

        Timmy and Brad both have had their share or crap games but they are both playing well right now.

        In a year who knows?

        Goal keeper is the last thing the USMNT needs to be worried about.

      • dave,

        Was that the shot from like 30 yds out?

        I was thinking more of the first Ghana goal, the one that everyone blames on Rico..

      • Dave is right,
        That third goal had Guzan reaching for it. Howard would have used his feet. I rarely see Guzan using his feet to make stops.

      • Lavalamp,

        So I ask you again, are you saying that if Howard had been the keeper that the US wins?

        Are you upgrading that from an opinion to a fact?

      • Yep, the one from 30 yards out. I think he just didn’t see it until it was right on him.

        There’s no way to determine if TH saves the 3rd mexican goal, as i said, mexico was the better team and earned their win.

        Guzan doesn’t seem to organize the backline as well as Timmy – yeah, i know brad has been “gifted” some pretty shaky backlines, but still…

      • dave,

        Howard used to scream and curse a lot at his defenders.

        Guzan isn’t quite as demonstrative.

        Can you explain to me how you, sitting in front of the TV or sitting in the stands at a game can tell :

        What the Guzan and Howard are actually saying?

        If the defenders are actually listening past a certain point?

        Can you tell me what is the difference in terms of how Howard manages, for example, Geoff Cameron vs how Guzan manages Cameron?

        Because I certainly couldn’t tell you.

      • “and it assumes Guzan is still to be groomed as future 1 when this whole set of events hints maybe that should be reconsidered”

        Guzan in 5 years could still evolve to the level of Howard, maybe not equal but he could still get there. right now Guzan is just a step below. he’s very solid but has a few negative marks on his skill sheet. with a little polish over the next half decade he could be groomed into a Howard level. A GKs ‘prime’ is later than a field player so a 31yo Guzan isn’t an ‘oldman’.

      • Hamid is incredible, and will be better than Guzan. But Guzan has faced a higher level of competition than Hamid ever has, and for a few years. Until we see Hamid bring his game to that level, he isn’t better than Guzan.

        I love analogies… Even if someone is able to straight run up to the top of Mt. Ranier, that doesn’t make him a better climber than someone who has climbed Everest.

      • Paul,

        “Does anyone really think there is much difference between Guzan and Hamid?”

        Ask Kasey Keller and Brad Friedel

        Hamid is a great prospect but so much of great goalkeeping is about the mental side of things (see Buffon, Gigi).

        When has Hamid been in a game that really mattered, where the pressure was off the scale?

        In the 2009 Confederations Cup the USA had to beat Egypt 3-0 to advance. And Egypt, who had beaten Italy 1-0 and only lost by one goal to a Brazil that had massacred the US, was a tough team. Guzan came in for Howard and pitched a shutout and the US advanced.

        Guzan has frequently been the only thing standing between Aston Villa and relegation. That’s millions and millions of English pounds and lots of people’s jobs worth of pressure.

        So please don’t tell me that right now Hamid, good as he is, is Guzan’s equal as a goal keeper or that there is not a significant gap between the two.

        The only reason this is even a question is that those who hate JK perceive Timmy as being “Landoned” for taking a sabbatical. So they figure that must mean Timmy = Landon like Guzan = Wondo.

        Normal, sane fans would see that the US is in a good spot with two top very good keepers.

      • “Normal, sane fans…” Lol, you mean like any who don’t share your opinion, right? Maybe you should post on political message boards.

        As for pressure, no Hamid has never been in a situation where his team could be relegated from EPL, but he has been a couple professional games, you know, with like a whole lot of people watching and everything.

      • Paul,

        SBI is a political or perhaps more accurately a faith based message board.

        People take it as an article of faith that LD would have scored the goal that Wondo missed vs Belgium.

        You have faith that Hamid is better than Guzan without any tangible evidence.

        And just because Hamid has played you know professional soccer doesn’t mean he has any idea of what the pressure will be like when he has to play goal for the USMNT and it really matters. .

        Guzan and has proven he can handle the pressure well.

        That’s a fact not an article of faith.

      • I’d say any professional keeper with playing time has felt the pressure of saving his team and preserving his career. The amounts of money involved probably don’t mean much when a game that club considers to be important is close and the shot is inbound.

      • Paul, you gotta know when to tap out, bro. lol.

        the pressure GW refers to is less about the money and more about the literal pressure of the media, coaches, crowd, teammates, job security, career, etc.

        DCU’s avg attendance hovers around 15k

        AV’s hovers around 40k; with the top teams around 60-70k. So AV thus plays in crowds of 40-70k(home and away); FAR greater than a 15k ‘sellout’ at RFK.

        the point is you can’t compare the level of pressure-filled situations that Guzan and Hamid have faced and say ‘[it’s a wash/irrelevent]’.

        just bow out and sneak back into the crowd. lol

      • Paul,

        “The amounts of money involved probably don’t mean much when a game that club considers to be important is close and the shot is inbound.”

        You really believe that?

        Two things:

        By your rationale the pressure involved when playing an important game in, for example, the USL or NASL is the same as the pressure when playing for your country in a vital game or playing in a league where the entire city goes into mourning if the team loses a big game. I disagree with that and I suspect most people would.

        You place a great premium on shot stopping, acrobatic saves. But if you ask all these ex keepers like Keller and Friedel and read up on the position or talk to my old keeper coach they will tell you there is an awful lot more involved than just stopping shots. David James, ex England keeper, liked to say that most acrobatic saves were actually mistakes by the keeper in that they wouldn’t be necessary if you had positioned yourself correctly in the first place.

        Hamid has all the tools he needs to be a great one. What no one knows , what he has yet to prove, is that he has the mental make up to be consistently great at a higher level than DC United.
        Howard had all the tools as well.
        For a while he was great at Manchester United. But a mistake at Lyon, United gets bounced out of the Champions League and SAF fires him. Timmy moves on to Everton and it was there, at a slightly lower level of insane pressure, where he perfected his game. But Everton is still above that of DC United.
        If you had a choice between Guzan and Hamid for that Mexico game, maybe Hamid plays out of his mind and stops Mexico cold and the US wins. Or maybe he repeats his pathetic display for the Under 23’s when they bombed out of qualifiying.
        You would have played Hamid but as a believer in the church of Hamid you don’t care about the fact that Guzan is playing very well and has a quantum level more experience, you would go with faith. And you might be right. Hamid probably, would have been fine vs. Mexico.
        But if it were me , I would have gone the facts and with Guzan’s experience.
        But hey to each his own. But here’s the thing, if Hamid had emerged in that game with a “World Class” performance then other than having won the game , which is good, what do you have?
        You now have three top class players for a position where you can only play one guy. And there are many who would argue that you SHOULD only play one guy which means you have two top flight keepers rotting on the bench.
        If the USMNT has a list of 100 problems, the goal keeping situation is problem #101.
        I’d say it is a very low priority and is only an issue because it gives JK’s critics one more thing to complain about.

      • Also, I agree that shot stopping isn’t everything, and arguably isn’t the most important attribute of a keeper. But, when defending Guzan, do you really want to expand the conversation into managing defenders, controlling the box and the big one, distribution? Not saying Guzan is terrible, but his performances (especially after what appears to be the high water mark around 2013) have raised those questions.

  4. What this says to me is that Howard did his time in JK purgatory and is still the better keeper. Howard’s ability to command a team is legendary, and while he’s not perfect, I would still rather see him out there than Guzan.

    • I disagree, if he was truly acknowledging what happened, he gives Howard the job outright. This balancing act is actually him fighting the situation still. Not, OK, you start. Instead, OK, you get half the starts.

      • Balancing goal keepers eventually always works itself out.

        Keller and Friedel had much the same thing going on for a while and what I remember about that is that the USMNT had great goalkeeping during the entire time..

      • +1

        swapping GKs is more beneficial than people think. it keeps 2 GKs fresh and still focused yet allows a team to still see who does better to then use in the more important games. I’d imagine they rotate through qualifying and then by the time the next big stretch of games come, you choose the better of the 2 over the past period of time.

  5. You know, on a real team, continuity and communication between regular keepers and defenders is seen as sorta kinda a good thing. This is just becoming too much of a joke.

      • If one guy allows 2 or 3 goals and the other 1, yes, even if the defense is swiss cheese. That’s the sort of distinctions you’re supposed to make on keepers, hoping they keep you in hopeless games.

    • Howard has earned the spot. JK is hidebound and won’t make the darned decision. Howard has not hit the wall physically, he just took time off.

      Granted, the cupcake semi group is going to be easy, which is why I think he is playing for time. He acknowledges this is no way to handle a tournament, and implicitly real competition. But he can get away with it.

      He’s implying this is necessary to keep Guzan happy. Since when do we do that? You shouldn’t have to negotiate and platoon for a professional attitude. Keeper is generally a long apprenticeship job and you earn your way up while waiting for your time.

      I know Howard is the 1, I am not sure Guzan is even the second best keeper available. Our GA ballooned over the summer and there haven’t been many games where he has really played well and saved our goat. He instead leaks what the defense allows. Overrated IMO.


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