Howard’s last appearance for the US came in the 2-1 extra time defeat to Belgium in the round of 16 at the 2014 World Cup, when the Everton goalkeeper produced a tournament record 15 saves to keep his side in contention for most of the match.
However, the 104-times capped stopper later announced in August that he would take a 12-month break from the international game – with Klinsmann’s blessing – to spend more time with his children.
In his absence, longtime backup Guzan has fought off competition from Real Salt Lake’s Nick Rimando to be named the interim No. 1 and started throughout the team’s CONCACAF Gold Cup campaign this month.
While the US themselves endured a dismal tournament, having finished outside of the top three for the first time since 2000, the Aston Villa keeper’s performances drew special praise from Klinsmann, who is now facing a real selection dilemma in the coming months.
Howard confirmed this week that he still intends to make himself available for the team’s September friendlies against Peru and Brazil but, after turning 36 in March amid a down season at Goodison Park, fans and the media alike are now wondering whether Guzan could be handed the job for the foreseeable future.
Speaking on Saturday after seeing his side lose their third place play-off against Panama 3-2 on penalties following a 1-1 draw after extra time, Klinsmann was noncommittal about the former Manchester United man's US future and added that he planned to speak with him next week before further assessing the goalkeeping situation.
“I will have a talk with him first,” said Klinsmann. “I will have a phone call with Tim probably next week and also with Brad and see how we want to move forward. Brad kept us in the game with some tremendous saves.
“You always have an eye on the growth of the team and the program, and at the same time you also zoom in and when a tournament is happening, you want to win the tournament.”
Guzan, who has earned just 37 US caps since his debut in 2006 due to Howard’s presence between the posts, made nine saves in the game against Panama and also saved a spot-kick in the shootout loss.
Like his compatriot, the former MLS star endured some struggles at the club level last season, having been replaced by Shay Given for Villa's run-in following a blunder in April's 3-2 defeat at Manchester City, but manager Tim Sherwood has since reiterated that he will back as first-choice this season after his positional rival's departure for Stoke.
At age 30, few would be surprised if he was made the USA’s No.1 on a permanent basis from here on but, at the same time, one imagines that Howard does not intend to just relinquish the role without a fight.