While Tim Howard continues to play for Everton and spend more time with his family, there will be sizeable void in the United States Men National Team’s defense in a very literal sense. Between the two back-up goalkeepers who traveled with the team to Brazil, and a few scattered amongst MLS and the English Premier League, the fight for a starting birth should become very interesting during the next year. A handful of friendlies and the 2015 COCACAF Gold Cup will present candidates with a great opportunity to stake a claim. Who Klinsmann will bring to those games is, as of right now, very much up in the air and as a result let’s have a look at the potential incumbents to replace Howard in goal.
The 29-year-old Aston Villa keeper has been Howard’s back-up since earning his first call-up in 2006 and is the likely choice to replace Howard. Guzan has seen field time on random occasions, mostly stepping in when Howard was injured. Despite being the No. 2, Guzan has proven himself a fantastic shot-stopper each time he’s taken the field for the USMNT, which included two clean sheets during the qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup against Costa Rica and Mexico.
As the third string goalkeeper for the United States in Brazil, Rimando is likely to see some playing time for the USMNT during Howard’s leave. However, it’s unlikely that he will take Howard’s place long-term. Although Rimando holds the record for most shutouts in MLS, however, aged 35, this may work against him and he’ll likely rise to the role of back-up for Guzan and remain there until Howard’s return.
Chicago Fire goalkeeper, Johnson has seen a bit of playing time for the U-20 and U-23 teams, as well as a some field time for the senior team as a substitute. He also earned a start against Costa Rica where the USMNT claimed a 1-0 victory. At 25, Johnson is touted as the future custodian of the United States, but there will be fierce competition for the spot.
At 23, Hamid has a long future with the USMNT. The D.C United player is known for his fiery temper, but made a debut for the United States against Venezuela in 2012. Jurgen Klinsmann will always keep an eye out for the youngster, who is more than likely to fight it out for that third position in the pecking order. The 2018 World Cup should be used as a driving motivation for Hamid.
Although Cropper is only 21 he plies his trade with Southampton and represents what Klinsmann wants for the future of the USMNT team – young and athletic players who play in Europe. He has not earned a call-up for the senior team, only playing for the U-20 side. However, Cropper went to California before the team left to Brazil to train with Howard, Rimanddo and Guzan last summer. With friendlies and Gold Cup matches ahead, Cropper might receive his first appearance for the senior USMNT, and making a big impression would do his chances the world of good.