United States national team goalkeeper Tim Howard will miss four months because he has to undergo surgery for a groin injury he suffered during Friday's World Cup qualifier against Mexico, according to the Colorado Rapids, his MLS team.
It will put his status for the United States' next set of World Cup qualifiers in late March in jeopardy.
Brad Guzan will be the USMNT's No. 1 goalkeeper for Tuesday's CONCACAF qualifying match against Costa Rica. Ethan Horvath and William Yarbrough should get consideration for the main backup role while Howard recovers.
The 37-year-old Howard appeared in just five matches for the United States this year, allowing four goals. The team has appeared to be phasing in Guzan as the starter while looking ahead to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Guzan, 32, who plays his club soccer in England with Middlesbrough, started the Americans' first five matches in the 2016 Copa America Centenario, while Howard appeared in just the third-place match.
Howard was the United States' lone starter during each of the last two World Cups, anchoring it to the round of 16 in both 2010 and 2014. He became a household name at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, where he made a tournament-record 16 saves in the knockout stage against Belgium, though it was in a losing effort.
After Tuesday's match against Costa Rica, the United States will play Honduras and Panama on March 24 and March 28.
Howard's absence will also hurt his MLS side, who will be taking on the Seattle Sounders in the Western Conference Championship, which begins Nov. 22.
In the semifinals against the Los Angeles Galaxy, Howard made two crucial saves during a penalty shootout to secure Colorado's advancement.
Zac MacMath will take over as the Rapids aim for their second MLS Cup title. In 17 matches this season, he went 9-3-5 with six shutouts, 39 saves and just 13 goals against.