That's On Point: The Web Site

Don't blame us, we voted for Karl Pilkington.

Howard's (temporary) End

Yo, Joe!
So who would've thought late Friday afternoon news would break out of England that U.S. No. 1 Tim Howard has two broken bones in his back, sidelining him 3-7 weeks. Not a big deal, aside from the fact the U.S. will play World Cup qualifiers against Costa Rica and some country called Mexico in that time frame.

In the words of Nile Rodgers and Chic ....

Ahhhhhhhh freak out!

Howard is almost universally beloved by U.S. supporters -- aside from my friend Mike, but we'll get to that later. ESPN's Ian Darke has all but open-mouth kissed him during U.S. and Everton broadcasts.

There's no exact Sloan Conference-approved advanced analytic to prove this statement, but watching the U.S. play in the last five or six years it's hard to think of a keeper more important to his team's success than Howard. Iker Casillas, Gigi Buffon, Manuel Neuer, etc. are all better keepers by whatever metric you want to use. (Unless you're Jonathan Wilson then the top No. 1 in the world is some random guy playing in the Bosnian Second Division, but I digress.) The U.S. without Howard, considering the team's limitations in other places on the field, is a scary thought to process.

This is classic "eye test" stuff, but watching the U.S. play it seems like Howard keeps them in a ton of games with his reflexes and ability to make highlight reel double save. How many times has Howard kept the U.S. in a match during the first half, setting up one of their trademark late smash-and-grabs?

My friend Mike argues Howard is overrated and when the money is on the line -- namely the 2010 World Cup vs. Ghana -- Howard couldn't come up with a save on Asamoah Gyan to keep the U.S. alive in South Africa. To some degree that's true. We all probably look at Howad through red, white and blue glasses, clouding our judgment and likely overrating his worth.

We can probably all agree Howard is a very solid -- if not great -- international keeper.

The mild irony here is that for years the one position the U.S. national team had a surplus was a keeper, although looking back now maybe it was just an anomaly to have two guys -- Brad Friedel and Kasey Keller -- at their peak at the same time. The point is, the U.S. never has had to worry about finding a keeper. For all the talk of the Cote D'Ivorie's "golden generation" of players, the Elephants still had to rely on shaky Boubacar Barry all these years. Granted, America's never had anyone quite like Didier Drogba, but dammit, we've got guys who can strap on the gloves and play in net.

At the moment the U.S. keeper pool isn't quite as strong as it was 10 years ago, but it's not barren.

For two matches, albeit one at the Azteca, the U.S. can survive with Brad Guzan -- assuming he's not completely shell-shocked from allowing 50+ goals with relegation threatened Aston Villa in the Premier League. Who knows, maybe this opens the door, after years of being an international understudy, for Guzan to take over.

Sean Johnson and Bill Hamid are young and starting for their MLS clubs, but it's doubtful Jurgen Klinsmann would roll the dice with either of them for these important qualifiers. Nick Rimando would probably be the No. 2 behind Guzan in any case in the short term.

Where the issue for these two games becomes, shall we say, sticky is Klinsmann has seemingly painted himself into a corner opting to play young defenders Omar Gonzalez is 24, Timmy Chandler is 22. (The other starters from last month's game vs. Honduras Geoff Cameron and Fabian Johnson are 27 and 25 respectively, not young in soccer terms.) More important than saying this group is young, they have very few international caps among them -- plus Chandler and Johnson's first language is German. Is dropping veteran Carlos Bocanegra back into the starting lineup as a "experience" Band Aid a route anyone wants to go at this point?

Having Howard behind them there instills a little more confidence in the defenders than Guzan, regardless of their respective physical capabilities. 

Take Gonzalez, don't you think he feels a little better stepping onto the field knowing Howard is back there -- even if he might get screamed at in the process? If we as fans have elevated Howard to this lofty hero status, wouldn't his teammates feel the same way?

The big takeaway here is the U.S. is sitting on zero points with a must-win scenario on March 22 in Denver vs. Costa Rica followed by a trip to the Azteca without Howard, Landon Donovan and Steve Cherundolo. That's a combined 316 caps on the bench due to injuries and an existential crisis.

Not good.

As great an idea it would be for Klinsmann to reach out to Friedel -- who played for Tottenham Thursday in the Europa League vs. Inter Milan but retired internationally -- it's not going to happen. It's a nice pipe dream, but nothing more. (And as for keepers carrying their teams in an international setting, hard to top what Big Brad did in Korea in June 2002.)

Anyways, if we're going to recall a retired U.S. keeper, as the always affable @ChrisThomasFC suggests, there can be only one choice.

The man I affectionately call, Biff. 

Labels: , , , ,

2 Responses to “Howard's (temporary) End”

  1. # Blogger Unknown

    Tony Meola's mullet always brings a smile to my face.  

  2. # Anonymous Lokibeat

    I wouldn't mind bringing Friedel back. Not sure what message it sends to Guzan who is on the rise, but frankly, I am in freak out mode regarding the qualifiers. Having said that, I'm done with Donovan. If he comes back, I hope we don't qualify, that's the level of rancor the guy gives me.  

Post a Comment

Links to this post

Create a Link

Don't blame us, we voted for Karl Pilkington.

Points of Interest

  • Contact stuff

  • Deadspin Euro 2008 link
    AddThis Social Bookmark Button
    AddThis Feed Button

    WWW T.O.P.

    Previous posts

    Links We Like

    General Sports
    Sports Illustrated
    The Big Lead
    Yahoo Fantasy Sports
    Truth About Duke

    Fox Soccer Channel
    Football 365
    EPL Talk
    LA Times
    US Soccer Fed
    Big Apple Soccer
    World Soccer Daily
    Yanks Abroad
    The Guardian
    Subside Sports
    World Cup Blog
    Soccer Training
    Football Lineups
    Live Football
    Albion Road
    Live Soccer
    Bills Sports Maps
    Sams Army
    Big Soccer
    Football News Blog
    Npower Football League

    Soccer Blogs
    Bobby McMahon
    Steven Goff (Wash. Post)
    The Offside
    This is American Soccer
    Through Ball
    We Call it Soccer
    Soccer Thoughts
    116th Street Soccer
    Soccer Fever
    The Beautiful Game
    Oh You Beauty
    Red Cauldron
    Ben Olsen's Beard
    Pitch Invasion
    It's a Simple Game
    MLS Underground
    Live Football
    Soccer Training Tips
    Soccer Videos
    Premiership Talk
    Extra Footie
    Soccer Shop
    My Anfield
    Free Beer Movement
    Review Soccer
    Must Read Soccer

    People kind enough to link us (a.k.a. "Blogroll")
    Slack LaLane
    Rebirth of Slack
    Ride Horsey
    Soccer Cleats 101
    Third Leaf
    Life on a Bench
    We Should be GMs
    Dude Abides
    Mix Makers
    silent shroud
    Forty Minutes of Hell
    That Guy Sports
    I'm spatial
    Murder by Baltimore
    The Clean Sheet
    What I Watched Last Night
    NCAA B-ball scorea
    For the Love of Sports
    I Dislike Your Favorite Team
    Jackie Manuel's Posse
    Dennis Green Post Game Conference
    When the Seagulls follow the Trawler
    The Back Four
    Futbol My Way
    Fainting Goats
    Ole Football
    Shadow Futbol
    Trust in Totti
    FYI Sports
    In the end the Germans Win
    The Goalkeeper Company
    Snorting the Endline
    Dynamo Planet
    The Rookies
    Football Blog
    Il Mondo di Calcio
    Just Football
    Wild Rover Clothing
    In the Stands
    The Dribzleroo
    Kareem's Kicks
    Rock the Body Electric
    (Send an email if you want a "link exchange.")

    Adult Swim
    The Office
    Borat Online
    No Homers Club

    Drudge Report
    Movie Trailers
    All Music
    Lyric Search
    The Smoking Gun

    Hobo Trashcan
    Jon Ronson
    Lebowski Fest
    Ricky Gervais
    Pooch Cafe
    David Icke
    Be Somebody
    Online World of Wrestling
    Sean Baby
    The Doodle
    Eugene File
    The Drobber
    Don West
    Fast Rewind
    Infinite Cool Website
    Diary of Herman Blume
    Join Arnold
    NES Player
    Tecmo Super Bowl
    Battle Royale
    Ultimate Players Assc.

    Alltop, all the cool kids (and me)

    This page is powered by Blogger, the easy way to update your web site.

    Firefox 2