MIAMI SHORES, Fla. (AP) Tim Howard spent eight years as the top goalkeeper for the U.S. national team. Brad Guzan took over for a year during Howard’s sabbatical.
Now coach Jurgen Klinsmann says he plans to rotate them until deciding on a No. 1 for next year’s Centennial Copa America.
”Part of being a goalkeeper is that everyone is competing for one spot on the field,” Guzan said Tuesday, three days before the Americans start qualifying for the 2018 World Cup with a match against St. Vincent and the Grenadines in St. Louis. ”You get used to it. You need to be pushing each other.”
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Howard, 36, took over the starting job from Kasey Keller after the 2006 World Cup and started at the 2010 tournament in South Africa and last year in Brazil.
Guzan became the No. 1 in Howard’s absence this year and started in the CONCACAF Gold Cup and in last month’s 3-2 loss to Mexico in the playoff for a 2017 Confederations Cup berth.
”Nothing has changed for me or for Brad,” Howard said. ”We try to do our best with our clubs, and Jurgen will make his decision based on a number of different factors. ”But it’s not something I lose sleep over.”
Howard is in his 10th season as the first-choice goalkeeper for Everton in England’s Premier League. Guzan, 31, is in what would be his fourth full season as Aston Villa’s starter. Guzan arrived at training on Monday night after helping the Villans tie first-place Manchester City on Sunday,
Trying to qualify for its eighth straight World Cup, the U.S. heads into Friday’s game with three straight home losses for the first time since 1997. The second qualifier is Nov. 17 at Trinidad and Tobago.
”We’re a good team,” Howard said. ”Part of being a good team is drawing from experience. We know what it’s like to qualify for World Cups – no one does it better. We continue to qualify, we do it in style, and we’re not going to worry about a few difficult months. That’s past us.”
Klinsmann cut Landon Donovan, then 32, from his roster ahead of last year’s World Cup. He bypassed 32-year-old Clint Dempsey for the opening two qualifiers this month in favor of young attackers Gyasi Zardes (24), Bobby Wood (22) and Jordan Morris (21) plus 26-year-old Jozy Altidore and 34-year-old Alan Gordon, who provides strength with headers.
”We can’t start this process two years from now,” Klinsmann said. ”We need the Bobby Woodses, the Jordan Morrises and the Gyasi Zardeses to make an impression, to fight their way through and prove it in World Cup qualifying.”
Among the 23 players on the U.S. roster, 11 are under 25.
”We told the more experienced guys that we need to see if the younger ones are able to take your spot one day,” Klinsmann said. ”Sooner or later, you have to force these pieces and make difficult decisions.”