Since 2010, either Tim Howard or Brad Guzan has started 93 of the U.S. Men’s National Team’s 118 matches. Aside from 25 exceptions throughout the past six years, one of the two has been responsible for manning the goalkeeper position, while providing consistency and veteran leadership from the back.
When the most recent USMNT roster was released, the names Howard and Guzan were left off, signaling a theme for the upcoming pair of friendlies. A trio of young goalkeeping stars are in the mix and looking to seize senior spots that have been occupied for as long as many can remember.
David Bingham, Ethan Horvath and William Yarbrough are the three goalkeepers that will join the USMNT for upcoming friendlies against Cuba and New Zealand and Bingham, like the other two goalkeepers on the roster, is hoping to take full advantage of the opportunity. The 26-year-old goalkeeper says that he believes his consistency on the club level has earned him another look with the national team, a chance he is hoping to take advantage of as he looks to claim a more regular spot heading towards the 2018 World Cup.
“I think (my game has improved) a lot, in certain aspects,” Bingham said. “It’s more the small things that people really don’t notice that I’ve improved on the most. It’s really just getting multiple games and being comfortable. We all make mistakes. I make mistakes every day, but it’s learning from those and trying not to duplicate those the following week.
“You have to make mistakes to improve on those,” he added. ” You have to test your boundaries and I do that a lot. You learn what you can do and what you can’t do and you grow from it.”
The San Jose Earthquakes goalkeeper earned his first cap in February’s 1-0 friendly win over Canada, a match that saw Bingham go the full 90 minutes. He has since continued to blossom as one of MLS’ top goalkeepers. Since assuming the role of Earthquakes starter last season, Bingham has started 65 consecutive league matches.
Still, the international game is one still very new to Bingham and his fellow goalkeeping competitors. The trio of goalkeepers combine for just three international caps between them. Yarbrough and Bingham have yet to reach their primes at 27 and 26-years-old, respectively, while the 21-year-old Horvath’s rapid ascendancy has taken him from the U.S. youth rosters to the Europa League and, now, a spot on the senior squad.
“I think the goalkeeper position is unique,” USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. “Obviously we have the two experienced guys with Tim Howard and Brad Guzan. Both are in different situations right now – Tim is obviously very busy with the Colorado Rapids and Brad is not getting the opportunity to play at Middlesbrough.
“I think it’s a perfect time to give an open window to three younger goalkeepers with William Yarbrough, Ethan Horvath and David Bingham. That’s why we decided to leave the two older guys out and give these three youngsters a chance to prove their point. That kind of opportunity is very rare.”
For the three goalkeepers on the current roster, there is no Howard or Guzan to lean on for advice, offering veteran leadership to players still adjusting to the international game. Rather, the three up-and-comers will be thrown into a competition. They aren’t there to merely make up numbers or learn lessons from the older stars; they’re there to show why they deserve to be in the mix for a starting job when the time comes.
Howard and Guzan are far from finished with the USMNT. With a Hexagonal looming, the two will likely battle it out for the No. 1 jersey once again. The starting spot remains a fluid one, as Klinsmann may very well opt for a rotation yet again. However, for now, the focus is on three youngsters that could very well be the players charged with ushering the USMNT past the post-Howard and Guzan era.
“There’s three goalies here,” Bingham said, “and we’re here for a reason. It’s up to us to take the chance that we’re given.”