[USA MEN] The U.S. men's national team injury worries mounted this weekend. First, Everton manager David Moyes confirmed starting U.S. goalie Tim Howard has two broken ribs in his back and could be sidelined at least four weeks, effectively ruling him out of the USA's March qualifiers against Costa Rica and Mexico. Then, Fabian Johnson was scratched from Hoffenheim's game at Greuther Fuerth, meaning that the top two U.S. left backs, Johnson and Edgar Castillo, are now sidelined. And by the way, the USA's top forward, Clint Dempsey, missed his fourth straight game with a calf injury ...
The back injury suffered during Everton’s FA Cup game against Oldham forced Howard to sit out last week's 3-1 win over Reading, ending his streak of 210 consecutive starts.
“We don’t think he will be out for the season,” Moyes said of Howard's injury Friday. “I read that [Newcastle’s Fabricio] Coloccini could be out for seven weeks [with a similar injury] but we are not sure how long Tim will be out for because, obviously with a goalkeeper, he has to dive around and hit the ground. I have let him go away for a few days. It might be that, if everything goes well, he misses next week’s game as well [against Manchester City] and then because of the international break he might be close after the rest because that would be four weeks."
With backup Jan Mucha in goal, Everton fell at home to Wigan, 3-0, in the FA Cup quarterfinals.
“He has two fractures," added Moyes, "but they are not bones that are supporting anything. It is off the spine. They are not weight-bearing. It just needs a bit of healing time. It is not like a pure fracture where you need to wait to look at it. It is a question of whether he can cope with the pain. The bones will heal themselves but it’s not good.”
Howard's absence would make Brad Guzan the likely starter for March qualifiers. In his sixth season at Aston Villa, Guzan finally earned a starting job in goal this season and has been outstanding for a team struggling to stay out of the relegation zone.
Guzan played only 20 minutes for the USA in 2012 and has not played in this World Cup qualifying cycle. The biggest win of his career came in 2009 when he was in goal for the 3-0 over Egypt that qualified the USA for the semifinals of the Confederations Cup.
The likely backups in case Howard isn't available are Real Salt Lake's Nick Rimando and Chicago's Sean Johnson.
The U.S. goalkeeping situation prompted Tottenham keeper Brad Friedel, who hasn't played for the USA since March 2004, to tweet that he'd consider making himself available if something happened to Guzan and Howard.
GK situation US:YOU ARE IN GREAT HANDS WITH GUZAN!!!! If he was also hurt of course I would consider helping until Tim and Brad were fit!!— bradley h friedel (@friedel_b) March 9, 2013
Indeed, the situation in goal isn't as troubling as that at left back, a problem position for years, if Johnson and Castillo are unable to play.
[UPDATE: Johnson is expected to resume training on Wednesday.]
Jurgen Klinsmann's options:
--Timothy Chandler has played at left back for the USA, but he is needed at right back with Steve Cherundolo also sidelined following knee surgery.
-- With Johnson and Castillo both injured,Michael Parkhurst started at left back for the deciding qualifier against Guatemala in the semifinal round, but he has not played the last two weeks at his German club, Augsburg, and made only one start since his move from Denmark in January.
-- Carlos Bocangera has often played at left back (most recently at Antigua & Barbuda in October) but he has not played for Spanish club Racing Santander since Feb. 3.
-- San Jose's Justin Morrow played at left back in the 0-0 tie with Canada Jan. 29 but it was his only international appearance.
-- Another possibility is midfielder Jose Torres. With Johnson sidelined, Torres started in the opening 2014 qualifier against Antigua & Barbuda and was stretchered off the field with an ankle injury for his trouble.
And in case you were wondering ...
-- Eric Lichaj started for the USA at left back in the 2011 Gold Cup final, but he hasn't played for the USA since then. His last appearance for Aston Villa was in January.
-- Besides Morrow, Americans starting at left back in MLS include: Tyson Wahl (Columbus), Chris Korb (D.C. United), Corey Ashe(Houston), Todd Dunivant(Los Angeles), Jeb Brovsky (Montreal), Kevin Alston (New England), Raymon Gaddis (Philadelphia), Michael Harrington (Portland), Seth Sinovic (Sporting KC). Only Dunivant and Mullan have been capped for the USA, but neither has played since 2007.
-- Left back Juan Pablo Ocegueda is one of the most players on the U.S. under-20 national team, but he is only 19 and has yet to play a league game in Mexico.