Guarding the net hasn’t been much of a problem over recent years for the US men’s national team – until now.
Meanwhile, Howard’s once-reliable backup, Brad Guzan, is dealing with a bout of wounded confidence in a down season with a struggling Aston Villa side. He was benched in January, only to struggle again since being reinserted into the starting lineup earlier this month.
Waiting in the wings behind Howard and Guzan, among others, are David Bingham and William Yarbrough, a pair of untested young netminders who have played in a combined three international matches. All four are in camp ahead of upcoming CONCACAF World Cup qualifying doubleheader against Guatemala on Friday (10 pm ET; beIN, NBC Universo) and Tuesday (7 pm ET; ESPN2).
“There’s a reason we brought four good goalkeepers to this camp,” US head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. “And that reason is the future. We want to see our younger goalkeepers grow. We want them to make an impression.”
In his first stint as a starter for the San Jose Earthquakes in 2015, Bingham had a breakout season, making 105 saves and recording 12 shutouts. Yarbough has back-to-back Liga MX titles with Club Leon in in the 2013-14 season under his belt.
D.C. United's Bill Hamid would undoubtedly be in the mix, but he's out 4-6 months after suffering a knee injury.
Still, Klinsmann is not sweating any concerns that he has a goalkeeper problem, despite refusing to reveal his starter. Speaking to reporters during the team’s second practice at Barry University on Tuesday in preparation for the qualifiers vs. Guatemala, Klinsmann said his plan is to groom Bingham and Yarbrough as the heirs to Howard and Guzan, and at the same time assure that he’s got steady veteran leadership between the posts.
“We want them to become more confident and more mature,” he said.
Klinsmann called Howard’s Stateside return a major boost.
“Obviously, having a player like Tim Howard back in our group is huge,” Klinsmann said. “Is it more ideal if he plays? Absolutely.”
Howard didn’t have much to say about his chances of getting on the field.
“You’d have to ask Jurgen,” he said. “I feel good, but it’s his decision.”
Guzan said his recent woes with Villa won’t hamper him if his number gets called.
“It’s a difficult time for everyone at the club, including myself,” Guzan said. “It’s not a position we want to find ourselves in. At the same time, we have to take every positive from it.”