US national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has revealed that he plans to split the team’s starting goalkeeping job between Aston Villa’s Brad Guzan and Everton’s Tim Howard when their World Cup qualification campaign kicks off next month.
Speaking following Tuesday night’s 1-0 friendly defeat to Costa Rica, in which Howard replaced Guzan between the posts after the Villa No. 1 started the weekend’s 3-2 CONCACAF Cup loss to Mexico, Klinsmann told the likes of Fox Soccer: "We have two exceptional, international-calibre goalkeepers. We need both of them on board. That's what I told them.
“Going forward, they will probably rotate. There will then come a decision — when we play Copa America or the Gold Cup or whatever comes up then — where one starts over the other."
|2015-16 Premier League||Team||Goals Conceded||Errors Lead To Goal||Errors Lead To Shot||Clean Sheets||Saves||Save %||Cross Claim Success||Goal Kick Accuracy||Appearances||Mins Played|
|Brad Guzan||Aston Villa||13||0||0||1||29||69%||100%||55%||8||720|
Tuesday’s match was Howard’s first appearance for the US since taking a year-long international sabbatical – with Klinsmann’s blessing – following the 2014 World Cup, in which he produced a tournament record 15 saves in the 2-1 round of 16 defeat to Belgium.
In his absence, long-time backup Guzan fought off competition from Real Salt Lake’s Nick Rimando to be named interim No. 1 and went on to win the CONCACAF Gold Cup’s Golden Glove award for the tournament’s best goalkeeper this past summer, despite the USA’s disappointing fourth-place finish.
With Howard since returning to the fold, however, Klinsmann now has a selection dilemma on his hands and, while he opted to go with Guzan for last week’s clash with bitter rivals Mexico, the Toffees stopper has made no secret about his desire to reclaim the regular starting job.
“Never been a backup. I think that’s a mentality,” Howard told SBISoccer.com last month. “I work my tail off every day. I know what it means to compete at the highest level and have a certain level of excellence, and I do that.
“I’ve never been a backup, never will be, so that’s not something I really worry about too much.”
Set to turn 37 in March, Howard’s struggles at Everton last season led to suggestions that he could have lost the USA’s No. 1 role to Guzan for good, but the 105-times capped stopper has since begun this term in superb form.
His 30-year-old Villa counterpart, who had previously been his understudy since 2006, has long-been regarded as the likeliest starter once Russia 2018 rolls around but Klinsmann is not quite prepared to commit to one or the other at this point.
Instead, the German boss intends to evaluate the position on a game-to-game basis, as his side look to get back on track following a dismal summer which has led to calls for him to be sacked.
"There's always a number one when the game starts," added Klinsmann. "Both keepers are so experienced. They've been with the national team so long. They are used to adjusting to the situation. They know it's a tough one on the coach. Every time a game comes up, I will talk to them and explain my thoughts. They are very, very even and you guys know it. That's why it is important to go along with both into the future. They stay positive. And that is what they are doing."