Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
U.S. Positional Rankings: Howard holds his No. 1 spot secure
by Ridge Mahoney, January 7th, 2013 2:38PM
Subscribe to Soccer America Confidential

TAGS:  americans abroad, men's national team, mls, world cup 2014


By Ridge Mahoney

Eighteen months before the 2014 World Cup there’s little if any chance that, barring injury -- assuming the USA qualifies -- Tim Howard won’t be in goal.

Howard's clearcut status is an exception. There’s ample uncertainty and nebulousness in several other spots as U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann prepares for a frantically busy 2013. More than 20 games are likely when the Hexagonal qualifiers, Gold Cup and friendlies – starting with Jan. 29 against Canada – are added up.

Soccer America U.S. Positional Rankings are presented a depth chart by position. These rankings reflect where the incumbents and candidates stand, based on current form, past experience and other factors, such as the squad’s relative solidity -- or lack of same -- at each position. Players are ranked at one position, though some are contenders at multiple positions. The U.S. Positional Rankings will be periodically updated during the Hexagonal, incorporating fluctuations in club form as well as showings, if any, for the USA, as well as U.S. youth teams, if applicable.

In goal, which has traditionally been the strongest USA position over the last two decades, there’s unlikely to be shakeup at the top, unless a serious, long-term injury sidelines the current No. 1.

SA's Top 6 U.S. Goalies
1. Tim Howard (Everton) 84 caps.
2. Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), 20 caps.
3. Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake), 6 caps.
4. Tally Hall (Houston), 0 caps.
5. Bill Hamid (D.C. United), 1 caps.
6. Sean Johnson (Chicago), 2 caps.

Howard didn’t concede any shaky goals at the 2010 World Cup yet he also didn’t produce any brilliant saves, as did Brad Friedel at the 2002 competition in which the Americans reached the quarterfinals. (They were undone, ironically, by a goal line "save" by Germany’s Torsten Frings.)

Yet Howard has been excellent on several other occasions, most notably the 2009 Confederations Cup -- in which he and Americans ended Spain’s 35-game unbeaten run with a 2-0 victory -- and the 2007 Gold Cup. He signed a four-year deal with Everton last February, is approaching his 300th Premier League appearance and doesn’t seem to be in any danger of being deposed for club and country. That absence of competition could be detriment, yet Howard’s concentration and work habits are rarely subpar.

Howard will be 35 at Brazil 2014 yet there’s little reason to believe he won’t be the Americans’ best option in goal. By then, however, his closest pursuer may well have tightened the gap.

Guzan needed a few years to get a real shot with Aston Villa, which he joined in 2008 after several stellar seasons for Chivas USA. Last summer, the club released him yet soon thereafter signed him to a new contract, and despite conceding 15 goals in three games during the busy holiday period, including an 8-0 thrashing by Chelsea in which he saved a penalty kick, Guzan has kept the No. 1 shirt.

But Villa has conceded more goals (41) than any other Premier League team and is in 16th place, just one point clear of the relegation zone. Guzan has given up 37 of those goals in his 19 starts and at age 28, can’t afford a dropdown to a lower division or losing the starting spot he waited so long to get. Longtime Irish international Shay Given is the Villa alternative.

Rimando, 33, is consistently ranked among MLS’s top keepers, is a popular presence with his good humor and zealous training habits and has no trouble leaving or joining the U.S. squad on short notice. He’s out of the January camp as he recovers from a bothersome shoulder injury but is a near-certainty to be summoned during the Hexagonal.

Hall, 27, has no caps and aside from a trip to Japan with the U.S. U-23 team in 2007 hasn’t been involved with the national team programs. Since taking over the Dynamo net from Pat Onstad, he’s been the starter and backstopped Houston to back-to-back MLS Cup appearances. He does have international club experience for the Dynamo in Concacaf Champions League play, and a bit more range than the two youngsters often called in by Klinsmann.

A rough experience playing for the U-23s last spring in Concacaf Olympic qualifying led to Hamid briefly losing his starting job at D.C., but he regained the spot and finished the season with 60 league appearances dating back to his first MLS start in 2010.

Unfortunately, Hamid's bobble of a cross resulted in an ugly own goal in a 1-1 playoff tie with New York and he didn’t look especially secure in the conference finals against Houston, but at age 22 he’s still learning. He got his first cap against Venezuela a year ago after making the game-day roster as Howard’s backup several times in 2011. He turns 23 in May, which makes him about six months older than Johnson.

Johnson replaced Hamid at halftime in the final Concacaf group qualifier against Guatemala and reacted too slowly to prevent the stoppage-time equalizer in a 3-3 tie that eliminated the Americans. Like Hamid, he’s been an MLS starter since 2010 (72 appearances) and got his first cap in a January friendly, the 2011 game against Chile.

The duel between Hall, Hamid, and Johnson is more than a claim to Rimando’s status as No. 3. If Klinsmann passes on both Howard and Guzan for the Gold Cup, the MLS contingent (which could also include Dan Kennedy, Jon Busch and Luis Robles) will be front and center.

1 comment
  1. Robert Kiernan
    commented on: January 7, 2013 at 9:04 p.m.
    Well you left it to the end, but I'm glad you mentioned Dan Kennedy (30) and Luis Robles (28) both of whom are older than Johnson and Hamid, yet younger than Howard or Rimando... they are more like Guzan in age and experience having played respectively in Germany and Chile before joining MLS clubs... both played quite well this past season, but Jon Busch is 36, which is OLDER than either Rimano or Howard, both heading towards 34 this year... so I tend to think he is not really as likely a candidate for any long term stay with the NATS... and on the other end, besides Johnson and Hamid, the other likely young keeper to keep in mind is Zac McMath (21) with Philadelphia...and as a long shot, there still is David Yelldell at Bayer Leverkusen who is 31 now. ... (ICE)

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now



Recent Soccer America Confidential
Dempsey: Qualifying for the World Cup is bigger than breaking scoring records    
In his bid to "stay relevant" and in the plans of national team head coach Bruce ...
Bruce Arena makes the USA fun to watch    
Before Friday's game against Honduras, I wondered whether the U.S. national team would bring joy to ...
Michael Bradley: USA prepared 'to tilt the bar in our favor' early against Honduras    
As they train in San Jose for a crucial Hexagonal match against Honduras on Friday, the ...
Next move for Real Salt Lake is the most crucial in a decade    
The history of RSL is one of remarkable stability -- just three head coaches since starting ...
U.S. roster announcement: Bruce Arena's return marked by a singleness of purpose    
Multiply the left-back debate with a few more positions each with several candidates and you'll have ...
Quakes encouraged but not giddy after impressive opener    
Four seasons without playoffs has left the fervent fans in San Jose discouraged, but a ray ...
MLS 1-22: Ranking the teams on the eve of a new season    
Eight different teams have played in the last four MLS Cup finals and last year, 2015 ...
Random thoughts as the MLS season draws near    
The 2017 MLS season starts next Friday, March 3, more than a month earlier than the ...
Walker Zimmerman joins the U.S. centerback pool with solid performance    
Two FC Dallas centerbacks were summoned to the first U.S, camp of 2017 and after Matt ...
Rare USA golazo inspires some hope    
One swallow doesn't make a summer, but the USA delivered something impressive with its goal in ...
>> Soccer America Confidential Archives