June 12. England. United States. World Cup in South Africa. Tim Howard.
There are many certainties right now about who the U.S. is playing. Another thing that is sure is that Everton keeper and U.S. No. 1 Tim Howard will be between the sticks as a starter for most if not all of the U.S. matches in South Africa this summer.
Howard has waited in the wings over the last four years, backing up Kasey Keller at the 2006 World Cup.
After several years of testing and proving himself at the club level with Premier League side Everton and having gone through the rigorous aspects of World Cup qualifying, Howard is the undisputed No. 1 keeper for the U.S. heading into June.
A question that remains unresolved is, however, who will be the No. 2 backing up Howard?
As of last summer, that person was Brad Guzan. Guzan backed up Howard at the Confederations Cup and even started the game against Egypt, which the U.S. won 3-0. He then went on to start several Carling Cup matches for his club side Aston Villa.
He has been relatively quiet both on and off the field, since he plays behind former U.S. No. 1 Brad Friedel.
Recently, however, Guzan was upset after getting pulled from playing in the Carling Cup final.
Guzan said, “To make it to the final, and to then get benched and to lose the game was absolutely heartbreaking."
“After you help your team get to a final, it was devastating not to play. I have thought about playing more regularly. I know that I need to start playing."
“If, at the end of the season, the plans make sense for me to go out on loan then that is a possibility I will be open to.”
So Guzan is in a much more tenuous situation with his club than previously, and he's not getting games so that he can be match-ready for June.
Enter Marcus Hahnemann.
The Wolves keeper has had a stellar run of form over the last couple of months. More recently, Hahnemann helped the team to a win away against West Ham, a draw against Everton, and a close 1-0 loss to Arsenal.
Has the 37-year-old passed Guzan on the depth chart?
Bob Bradley does value form and playing time, which Hahnemann has over his younger teammate, however, Bradley has shown he is a loyal manager to certain players who might not be getting playing time now but who have earned his trust in the past.
Guzan is one such player who Bradley seems to trust.
It's a classic issue. Do you go with a player who is playing now and playing well or a guy who has earned trust in the past and is your current No. 2?
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