Bruce Arena announced today that Tim Howard would be the starting goalkeeper in the two World Cup Qualifying matches on June 8th against Trinidad and Tobago and June 11th against Mexico. Arena confirmed that he is the team’s No. 1 goalkeeper.
After the 2014 World Cup and a record setting performance in the round of 16 game against Belgium where he saved fifteen shots, Howard took a year off from international play. During that year, then head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, had Nick Romando and Brad Guzan competing for the job. Guzan would eventually win the job, but when Howard returned after his one year hiatus he was told he had to win his job back from Guzan. Klinsmann had Guzan and Howard flip flop starts leading up to the 2016 Copa America Centenario where he officially named Guzan as the USMNT’s No. 1 for the tournament.
After the 2016 Copa America Centenario, Klinsmann went back to the rotation of goalkeepers. It wasn’t until November 21, 2016 when Klinsmann was fired as head coach of the USMNT and Arena was rehired as head coach, that we got to see Tim Howard in consecutive starts.
Even though we have seen Tim Howard start every meaningful game so far under Arena, it wasn’t until today that he publicly named him the team’s No. 1.
Going into the two June matchups, USMNT is currently sitting in fourth place in the hexagonal to decide the CONCACAF’s World Cup Qualifiers. Which means if they finish in fourth, they do not earn an automatic birth to the 2018 World Cup in Russia. They would then have to enter a playoff with a team from another nation and play in a two-legged home-and-away series with the winner decided on the aggregate score.
These next two games are crucial in putting USMNT in control of their own destiny for the final four games. However, the game on June 11th against Mexico is in Mexico. USMNT has a record of 1-23-2 in Mexico with their only win coming in a friendly. In the twelve games the USMNT has played in Mexico for a World Cup Qualifier, they are 0-12.
Time for Tim Howard to have another record setting performance and prove why he was USMNT No. 1 all along.