Klinsmann: Guzan, Howard to rotate as USA starter
United States coach Jurgen Klinsmann said he plans to split the starting goalkeeping role between Brad Guzan and Tim Howard when World Cup qualifying starts next month.
Guzan served as the starting goalkeeper in the recent CONCACAF Gold Cup and the CONCACAF Cup playoff defeat to Mexico on Saturday, but Howard made his first appearance for the U.S. since the World Cup round of 16 defeat to Belgium last year in the 1-0 defeat to Costa Rica on Tuesday.
Howard’s return to the starting XI in the defeat at Red Bull Arena prompted Klinsmann to reveal his plan to rotate Guzan and Howard moving forward.
"We have two exceptional, international-caliber goalkeepers," Klinsmann said. "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."
Klinsmann cited his desire to provide both Guzan and Howard with the necessary appearances going forward as the primary motivation behind the decision to chop and change between the two goalkeepers.
"For us coaches, it is extremely important to have both of them," Klinsmann said. "I cannot afford to lose one of them because he is not getting his games or he gets frustrated. They are two outstanding characters. They are givers, both of them. They respect each other 1000 percent. They help each other. Whoever is in the backup role pushes the one who starts. Our job is to keep both with us for the upcoming years because there is a hole there."
The decision to split time reflects the contributions both players have made to the program over the past few years. Howard served as the long-time number one before stepping away after the World Cup last year, while long-serving reserve Guzan stepped in to fill the void over the past year and won Golden Glove honors at the Gold Cup this summer.
Both players boast the credentials to earn the starting nod full-time, but the choice to assign starting duties from match-to-match will not cause any problems within the ranks, according to Howard.
"I’d like to play every game, but the reality is we have two good goalkeepers," Howard said. "I would like to get my fair shot. I think he’ll give me and Brad a fair shot as long as we’re playing week-in and week-out at Everton and Villa. It’s all about balance. I think it’ll be fine. There’s no problem. Brad and I, we compete well and we get along well. I’m there for him. He’s there for me. Nothing changes."
Klinsmann said he plans to address the starting role game-by-game as the Americans attempt to slide back on track after a difficult summer.
"There’s always a number one when the game starts," Klinsmann said. "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."