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Was Tim Howard’s injury a tiny blessing in disguise?

Mar 31, 2013, 4:10 PM EDT

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No one should ever find joy in athlete injury; remember what they say about karma being a “you-know-what.”

As such, none of the good, sweet, clean U.S. Soccer supporters would ever be “happy” that Tim Howard fell to injury three weeks ago at Everton, causing the highly respected American backstopper to also miss two massive World Cup qualifiers for his homeland.

But now that it’s over, now that Howard is once again stately guardian of Goodison  Park goal – pitching a shutout while presiding over his team’s 1-0 win Saturday against Stoke City – it seems OK to chew on this bit of delicious gristle:

Was all this a positive thing in the long run for Jurgen Klinsmann’s national team?

Brad Guzan (pictured) was flawless in goal over two U.S. nights. The duty was hardly extensive in that memorable March 22 fluffy white madness outside Denver, but what Guzan did handle that snowy evening required military grade attention, not to mention the surest of gloved hand. Four nights later in Mexico City, heady and hardy U.S. center back play prevented Guzan from being stretched too often. But again, what the U.S. backup did that cool evening at Azteca, he did with calm assurance and impeccable technique.

So … now we know.

We all suspected Guzan, so heroically nimble and well-placed this year while standing in the shooting gallery of Villa Park, had the stuff to handle the pressure cooker of a World Cup qualifying effort approaching the skids. (We did tell you so, after all.) But suspecting is one thing; putting on your flight suit while standing on deck beneath the “Mission accomplished” banner is something quite different.

Howard will be back in goal next time around. No need for Klinsmann to over-think this one, eh? It’s Howard as No. 1, now with Guzan as No. 1A.

It does help put this drive for Brazil 2014 into a better place, knowing a highly capable backup is around to stave off significant dropoff should Howard become less available once again.

  1. greej1938l - Mar 31, 2013 at 4:46 PM

    I have no reason to think Howard would not have been flawless either…

    • valiantdraws - Mar 31, 2013 at 4:51 PM

      That’s not what Steve was saying. He was reflecting on how it’s good that we’ve had the opportunity to truly test our #2 under pressure, and still come out lookin’ good. Injuries happen. Having multiple keepers who can really come through is a blessing.

  2. ryanw822 - Mar 31, 2013 at 6:01 PM

    It’s one thing the US does well when it comes to soccer.

    Until proven otherwise, I have no reason to have any concerns on who is the GK for the US.

  3. philneezy - Mar 31, 2013 at 7:29 PM

    I think Howard will make an excellent backup to Guzan in Brazil.

  4. footballer4ever - Mar 31, 2013 at 7:43 PM

    Guzan had to step up to the ocassion for his own sake, but Howard has proven to be the most reliable and safeguard of the US net.

  5. soccerkickin - Apr 1, 2013 at 3:35 PM

    Goalkeeping is the one position the U.S. doesn’t need to worry about. Guzan merely proved his run of great play in the Premier League is no fluke. We’re in good hands with either Timmy or Brad, but if it came down to it there are a few other guys who could do the job if given a chance like Nick Rimando or Bill Hamid or Dan Kennedy.

  6. tridecagon - Apr 1, 2013 at 5:50 PM

    I’m with ryanw822. For probably the last 20 years, the US has shown that its goalkeepers are among the best in the world, able to play solidly on a consistent basis, and occasionally steal a result the team might not have deserved.

    Great to see Guzan perform on the big stage, but Timmy is still #1 for the foreseeable future.

  7. schmutzdeck - Apr 1, 2013 at 9:46 PM

    Howard has been in decline since just before the World Cup and he had an uneven World Cup. His play has been complacent because he has had no competition since Keller left.

    His biggest flaw is the occasionally fatal lapse in concentration leading to a failure in positioning. Sometimes his athleticism makes up for that, sometimes it doesn’t.

    If the US makes it to Brazil, Guzan will have made a huge contribution even if he doesn’t play a minute.

    Just watch the next game, maybe Begium, that Howard plays. He’ll be playing like his hair was on fire, if he had any. He’ll have a laser like focus on every cross and shot. In other words, he’ll be playing like his job depended on it because it does.

    For the US to make some noise they will need a 2002 Friedel performance from whoever the keeper is not a 2010 Howard performance.

  8. tackledummy1505 - Apr 2, 2013 at 3:32 AM

    I’ve always thought Tim Howard as overrated, who really hasn’t ever really achieved anything significant in his career. Not to mention I’ve never seen Howard put in a Sportscenter highlight game or even come up big in the biggest games. Frankly he’s been average at best and I think I would rather see Guzman in there

  9. tackledummy1505 - Apr 2, 2013 at 3:37 AM

    To add to this, what goalie right now has the best GAA, during this tournament? Here’s hoping for Guzman, who gives this team it’s best chance.

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