Things have become real for the USMNT. They lost their first Hex match to Honduras. Questions about what the hell Jürgen Klinsmann is doing have added weight. The team was hoping to consolidate before qualifiers against Costa Rica and Mexico at the end of the month. Instead, they now face a potential injury crisis.
Tim Howard has broken bones in his back, which means he will miss the next two qualifiers at least. Howard has been pivotal for both the U.S. and Everton, but also healthy. Before his injury he had made 251/255 possible EPL starts since joining Everton in 2006. He last missed a start during the 2007-08 season. His injury could be crucial.
U.S. goalkeeper depth is not where it once was. Howard was once beating out Brad Friedel, Marcus Hahnemann and Casey Keller, all established starters in the EPL. Now, the USMNT has Brad Guzan, not having the best season in his first year starting for Aston Villa, and four MLS keepers with a combined 10 caps behind him. Friedel may still be an option. Though, the soon to be 42-year-old won’t come out of international retirement to supplant Guzan.
Howard could be back for the remaining qualifiers, though his return timetable being based on how much pain he can tolerate is never a good sign.
Landon Donovan will also miss the two matches, with his Rumspringa due to last through the end of March. Clint Dempsey’s call up may also be in doubt. The now 30-year-old has missed Tottenham’s last three matches with a calf strain.
Michael Bradley remains healthy. Fingers crossed.
[Photo via Getty]