Qualifying? You’re Talking Qualifying?: Tim Howard Out With Back Injury

Howard, can't be the difference maker this time around.

Howard, can’t be the difference maker this time around.

Well, World Cup Qualifying just got harder for the US, at home and certainly on the road.

Reports today say USMNT staple keeper Tim Howard is now out at least a month with broken bones in his back. Howard’s EPL club Everton certainly now has lost any slim hope they had at Champion’s League football as little-tested Jan Mucha will relieve the New Jersey-bred keeper.

For the US though, the challenge becomes threefold. First, they must replace Howard in net and select from a stable of players where Klinsmann has not necessarily crowned a number two. In all likelihood, Aston Villa man and understudy under Bob Bradley Brad Guzan will now deputize. Second, they must replace Howard’s role of marshaling the defense–a problem that becomes exacerbated when one considers that Klinsmann looked to be pushing beyond the aging Carlos Bocanegra as a pairing at center back. The weight of leadership now falls squarely–perhaps on Omar Gonzalez and Geoff Cameron–neither of who have been the defacto leaders for their clubs over the past years.

Finally, it has appeared that Tim Howard–at least temporarily–had been bestowed the captain’s armband for the States. Where, or rather who, does that arm wear go to now. Back to Bocanegra? Forward to Michael Bradley? Jermaine Jones?

Beyond Guzan, the role for the #3 and #4 keepers just got more interesting. In all likelihood, Nick Rimando is now this regime’s Marcus Hahnemann while Sean Johnson still edges Bill Hamid for the role of promising youngster.


34 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by gino744 on 2013/03/08 at 4:30 PM

    Not saying let’s push it but just askin’, where’s that panic button?


  2. Posted by mbw on 2013/03/08 at 5:41 PM

    JK will see this as a chance to get another central midfielder on the pitch. Probably either Beckerman or Torres. Dark horse: “El Big Red” Jeff Larentowicz.


  3. Posted by dth on 2013/03/08 at 7:12 PM

    I can see non-qualification from here. No Landon, no Howard…odds of having zero points after three games?


  4. Posted by Eric on 2013/03/08 at 7:17 PM

    I’m not sure if I have legitimate reasons for being concerned (as listed very well by Matt) even though Guzan has been playing well, or it’s simply been way too long since Howard hasn’t been in goal for a meaningful US game. Either way, I’m slightly concerned…


  5. Posted by Ufficio on 2013/03/08 at 8:35 PM

    We’ve got far bigger problems than having to use an EPL starter that’s shown well all season in goal.


    • Posted by Paul on 2013/03/08 at 9:08 PM

      And who is almost singlehandedly keeping his side within a point of safety….I agree that the larger problem is who will defend in front of Brad and how the midfield will keep the ball and create chances. I’d sacrifice Timmy for a healthy ‘Dolo or a younger Boca.


    • Posted by dth on 2013/03/08 at 10:34 PM

      While you can’t call Guzan a problem in of itself, it is a problem that there’s a dropoff — which may make the difference between a win and a draw, a draw and a defeat.

      Suppose you substituted Xavi for Jack Wilshere. Wilshere’s a very good player, of course, so it’d be unfair to call him a weakness in a hypothetical Barca team, but the dropoff between Xavi and Wilshere would concern any Barcelona fan, and justly so.


      • Posted by s44 on 2013/03/09 at 12:13 AM

        Except Guzan has been in noticeably better form than Howard. Howard has had incumbency and… that’s it. But no more.

        Anyway: (1) Wally Pipp, (2) Bradley, (3) we still don’t have offense.


        • Posted by Paul on 2013/03/09 at 2:12 AM

          One might be concerned that Howard’s ability to marshal the backline will be missed. Certainly Guzan’s current club form has been outstanding, possibly even better than Howard’s. The only thing he needs–and a big omission now–is familiarity with his backline.

          I wonder if Timmy’s dendency to spray the ball, hoofing chips into 50-50 balls, instead of playing to defenders out of the back, is more of a problem for a team that struggles so much at keeping and attacking through midfield. Perhaps Guzan rolling more balls to defenders creates greater turnovers, as defenders and mids need to communicate to get the ball into and through the middle third. Still,I contend that Timmy’s free kicks and general distribution are downsides to his game. Perhaps Guzan can help direct the flow of the attack from the first touches into the midfield.


          • Posted by KickinNames... on 2013/03/09 at 11:07 AM

            Guzan looked very good today and strong in his decision making for Villa (whose defense was suspect). Timmy’s form has been a bit slippy for the US lately (although it’s slipping from a very great height) and I think Guzan can more than handle the duties.
            Bigger concern is as stated, the keeper/central defense connection that is highly underrated especially without a strong leader in central defense.
            This squad does not look impressive going into this next group of games and without Donovan and a 100% Demps my expectations are dropping at an alarming rate.


            • Posted by Crow on 2013/03/09 at 7:05 PM

              I think the communication problems will be mitigated with everyone being new- if that makes sense. I think there will be no ‘waiting on what Tim says’. I’m not even talking about the 2nd goal which was a comedy of errors. Remember the bicycle kick goal- Omar was running out to close the Honduran player out wide (sorry I forget who), and then he suddenly stopped and came back to the box (obviously called back), then FJ tries to sprint out to mark the man but there wasn’t enough time. Perfect cross comes in, bicycle kick goal.

              I understand the importance of having Omar in the box, but at that point you just need the man with the ball shut down.

              Anyway, I agree that it is still a loss having Tim Howard out, but the timing I think “couldn’t be better” if it had to happen. Donovan, Dempsey out or not 100 %, FJ out (and Castillo), and ‘Dolo are the much, much bigger concerns.

  6. Posted by crow on 2013/03/08 at 11:22 PM

    Is say the biggest concern is Dempsey hasn’t played in a couple weeks. How serious is his injury?


  7. If Guzan plays well, does he keep his place in the team?
    On recent form, I feel Guzan deserved a spot on the starting XI anyway.


  8. Posted by dth on 2013/03/09 at 11:37 AM

    Watching the TFC-SKC. My main reaction was, “Who?” when seeing TFC’s lineup. Who are these people?

    Guess it’ll be another season in the sewers for Toronto.


    • Posted by dth on 2013/03/09 at 11:58 AM

      Besler with a horrendous backpass (though fake turf probably a contributing problem).

      SKC is playing pretty-looking stuff.


      • Posted by Alex on 2013/03/09 at 1:07 PM

        Toronto’s trying to hang onto the “most dangerous lead”. SKC playing well but not cracking it. Two mistakes by SKC and Toronto has capitalized to give them the lead


    • Posted by Crow on 2013/03/09 at 7:00 PM

      My thought exactly. Although you have to cheer for Nelsen and their fanbase in general which is one of the better ones in MLS despite their performance.

      I loved Earnshaw’s celebration, lol.


  9. Posted by dth on 2013/03/09 at 6:33 PM

    The fact that Yedlin’s a better right back than the #1 pick in the draft should send an important message to teams, though if your academy’s still lagging at this point you have to wonder what’ll wake you up. (Hey San Jose!)


  10. Posted by Crow on 2013/03/09 at 6:59 PM

    So Fabian Johsnon is hurt now, too- my word. And no Castillo even to break him up. Well at least Shea will be back at LW possibly, right?

    Man, I picked a great year to go to Azteca.

    Looks like Olsen will win the battle for the throne of future USMNT coaches this time.


  11. Posted by dth on 2013/03/09 at 7:25 PM

    Perry Kitchen had a really good game in central midfield today. Dominated it. Should be a Gold Cup callup for sure.

    DCU has not looked great overall, but it’s early and I’m not nervous yet. I think Sanchez will get better.


  12. Posted by KickinNames... on 2013/03/10 at 3:57 AM

    And just to complete a worrying trend, Mikey is out suspended today for Roma just as his starting spot and time have both been dwindling. He’s look less and less confident with the ball and more prone to dwelling on his mistakes.He has the look of an outsider since Zeman was booted as ,manager a month ago. A critical month or so in his Roma career IMO and he’ll be on the road with the Nats a significant portion of it


    • Posted by Crow on 2013/03/10 at 12:31 PM

      Forgot about that as well. Dempsey not in the 18 again today just 12 days before the Costa Rica game.

      I never remember a situation with such a large number of injuries/absences before such critical games.


      • Posted by Paul on 2013/03/10 at 2:17 PM

        Not a pretty picture, the gravest point in a cycle or two. Still, a great deal of dispair emergest from how poorly the midfield and strikers interacting while playing at the international level. Jones and Bradley, enjoying strong club play, should be able to combine better; Jozy, Clint, and Herc, recieving the meagerest of service, should be doing better with their limited changes, correct? The defense is troublesome; what is nearly as bothersome comes from the fact that the units in front of them have been underwealming without significant personel change and very good club play. Obviously, Klinsmann must be held partially responisible for trotting out bogus formations and lineups, but some of the blame must fall–though not equally–on these players who look completely discombobulated playing together.


  13. Posted by Crow on 2013/03/10 at 12:31 PM

    Wow, Philly- set pieces- when will you ever learn? Thanks goodness Jack Mac was on the line.

    Really ugly game so far. Field seems as hard as concrete.


    • Posted by mbw on 2013/03/10 at 3:49 PM

      Your guy Jack has the goalscorer gene. That guy is just a killer in front of net.


      • Posted by Crow on 2013/03/10 at 4:20 PM

        I know- I was typing up a comment about how invisible he was all game split screen, and then Hoppenot sprung Jack and he finished well. Sign of a good goal scorer- have a bad game but take your chances when you get them. He needs to be starting regularly. Hopefully, Casey remains a bench option going forward.

        I’d like to see Jack Mac, Okugo, and Williams all get consideration for the Gold Cup.


        • Posted by dth on 2013/03/10 at 5:14 PM

          Kitchen needs to be on that list, also.

          Here’s a shot at a Gold Cup starting lineup:

          S. Johnson; Williams, Berry, Okugo, random MLS LB; Kitchen, O’Brien; Pontius, Velasquez, De Leon; Agudelo.

          Coach: Kinnear, because eff it, I’ve fired Klinsmann.


          • Posted by Crow on 2013/03/10 at 9:06 PM

            Yes I like the DC United trio as well. I just had someone tell me I look just like Perry Kitchen, lol- which I kind of do.

            I’d like Gil to be considered as well from Salt Lake. And bring in Boyd from Europe, Diskerud, and Brooks.


  14. Posted by Crow on 2013/03/10 at 12:35 PM

    One positive for the USMNT- Gomez is getting hot at the right time, and Jozy continues to score. I know they don’t complement each other but maybe start Jozy and Herc together up front or Gomez-Jozy-Deuce (health?) in the ‘3’ of a 4-3-3


  15. Posted by dth on 2013/03/10 at 5:14 PM

    Since JOLAZO has largely been retired, we need a term for Agudelo’s goals. Pretty nice one today for Juan.


  16. Posted by Nate on 2013/03/10 at 7:00 PM



  17. Posted by Crow on 2013/03/10 at 9:07 PM

    Wow, I took my dog over to a new dog park and drove right past Buck Shaw. Had no idea how close I was now. Will definitely be going to the Union game there this Autumn.


  18. Posted by SamT on 2013/03/11 at 10:50 AM

    Two easy answers and a difficult question:
    Easy = Guzan in the net
    Easy = Bradley with the armband
    Difficult = Who will organize the back line? Could be Guzan barking out commands.

    3pts or bust against CRC.


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