With Tim Howard (left) and Brad Guzan (right), the USA has two quality goalkeepers for the upcoming World Cup Qualifying campaign. (Photo: Mexsport)
HARRISON, New Jersey -- When the United States begins its qualifying campaign for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, head coach Jurgen Klinsmann will face an important decision.
Who will be the starting goalkeeper…Tim Howard or Brad Guzan?
For the first time in 15 months, Howard played for the U.S. in a 1-0 loss to Costa Rica on Tuesday.
The 36-year-old, who took a self-imposed sabbatical after a standout performance at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, acquitted himself well. He made four saves, although he could not stop Ticos striker Joel Campbell from scoring in the 70th minute at Red Bull Arena.
Klinsmann liked what he had seen in the Everton custodian's first international appearance since he made 16 saves in one of the great World Cup performances in a 2-1 extra-time loss to Belgium in a Round of 16 match in Salvador, Brazil, on July 1, 2014.
From that point forward, Guzan had assumed the No. 1 spot.
"He obviously deserved to start tonight," Klinsmann said of Howard. "The 14-15 months [he was away] Brad Guzan did an excellent job. They'll probably rotate. We'll make a decision where one starts over the other. They're two outstanding characters. They're very, very even."
The U.S. will open the CONCACAF fourth round of qualifying against St. Vincent & the Grenadines in St. Louis on November 13, before playing at Trinidad & Tobago four days later.
"Both keepers are so experienced. They’ve been with the national team so long and they’re used to adjusting to the situation," remarked Klinsmann. "They know that it’s a tough one now for the coach. Every time a game comes up, I will talk to them and explain my thoughts. That’s why it’s important to go along with both into the future.”
Howard said he was ready for the challenge.
“I’d like to play every game. Brad would like to play every game," the former Manchester United goalkeeper commented. “I think the reality is you’ve got two good goalkeepers. I would like to get my fair shot. I think he’ll give myself and Brad a fair shot. I think it’ll be fine. There’s no problem. Brad and I compete well, we get along well. I’m there for him, he’s there for me.”