For as long as I — and probably so many others out there — have been alive, the U.S. national team’s greatest strength has been its depth at the goalkeeping position.
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage ]
That is no longer the case, at least not right now. Neither one of Tim Howard, who’s been the USMNT’s no. 1 ‘keeper since 2007, or Brad Guzan, Howard’s long-time deputy and replacement during his recent year-long hiatus from international competition, are even starters for their respective club sides at the moment.
It’s been a month (Jan. 24) since Howard last featured for Everton, while Guzan hasn’t started a Premier League game for last-place Aston Villa since Jan. 2 (two FA Cup starts since then).
With 2018 World Cup qualifiers set to resume in a month’s time — and the 2016 Copa America not long after that — this is hardly ideal for USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who as of the end of 2015 had yet to commit to either one as the long-term starter, and again Sunday night admitted he’s not yet made a decision — quotes from the AP:
“Obviously you want to see them all play. But with both of them, they have tremendous experience. They know how to deal with these kind situations. They’re going to come in for the Guatemala game sharp and highly motived. They want to do well, so I’m not that concerned.”
At this point, if either one of Howard or Guzan were starting, they’d almost surely be picked ahead of their counterpart when the USMNT plays away to Guatemala on March 25. However, with neither one getting regular first-team minutes, it’s anybody’s guess who’ll be between the posts in Guatemala City.
As for Christian Pulisic, who recently made his first Bundesliga appearance and start for German giant Borussia Dortmund, those fans hoping the 17-year-old will be called up for this summer’s Copa America squad might be disappointed to hear Klinsmann won’t be rushing the Hershey, Penn., native along too quickly:
“We’ll keep things grounded, but we’re excited we have a talent like him coming through the ranks. What consequence that has maybe towards the summer, we’ll see.”