Tim Howard announced that he is available again to play for the United States in goal, but whether Jurgen Klinsmann restores the 36-year-old Everton stalwart to automatic choice is a different matter.
An exhausted Howard took a year’s sabbatical after his heroics at last summer’s World Cup in Brazil. He was one of the few keepers at the tournament who made a huge impression. But the distractions and physical demands of international duty did not improve his club form.
In fact, Howard made a series of basic errors last season which contributed to Everton finishing in mid-table and manager Roberto Martinez being heavily criticized and at some points under threat of the sack.
Martinez needs to finish better than 11th to hold onto his job next term, and Howard must take part responsibility for that.
His 104 international appearances are the most for a U.S. keeper and he has been totally reliable at the highest level, playing every minute of the 2010 and 2014 World Cups.
Brad Guzan, the Aston Villa keeper, has started for the U.S. during the Gold Cup, but Howard hopes to be back in goal as early as Sept. 4 in a friendly match against Peru at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. Guzan is only 30 and Klinsmann may decide he is a better long-term prospect.
Guzan made his international debut in 2006 and for much of the time since has been Howard’s stand-in.
Klinsmann may have a dilemma in picking between the two keepers considering the U.S. has done well in Howard’s absence. Guzan and striker Clint Dempsey have been the most consistent performers for the U.S. this year. Wins in friendly games against Germany and the Netherlands and their excellent form in the Gold Cup indicates Howard was not that badly missed.