October 11, 2008
By Michael Lewis
GETTING A REST
Howard won't play T&T; others will follow
Washington, D.C. -- The U.S. National Team that takes the field in Trinidad & Tobago Wednesday night might not look very recognizable to American soccer fans.
Thanks to the U.S. clinching a spot in the CONCACAF final round of World Cup qualifying, coach Bob Bradley has the luxury of resting players and giving young and internationally inexperienced performers a chance at playing in a qualifier or two.
One player, for certain, won't be with the team -- veteran goalkeeper Tim Howard, who was given permission by Bradley to return to his team, Everton, which plays in the English Premiership. The likely American starter in goal? Probably Brad Guzan.
Bradley will announce the team for Trinidad mid-day Sunday, just prior to the side leaving for Wednesday's encounter in the Caribbean.
“The immediate thought is that it is likely there will be some changes in the group that goes to Trinidad," he said. "We will work through that tonight. Again, you try to find a balance that things that are happening and developing and growing can continue. But at the same time, players that will benefit from some qualifiers will get their opportunity. We were ready to after this game to, if things went well, make some changes. I think you'll see some changes in the roster and then a different kind of lineup on Wednesday.”
Don't be surprised if three younger players who made a late impact in Thursday's 6-1 win over Cuba, get an opportunity to play more or start.
That includes Villarreal forward Jozy Altidore, an 18-year-old ex-New York Red Bulls who scored his second international goal and first qualifying goal in the 87th minute, AS Monaco midfielder Freddy Adu (formerly of D.C. United and Real Salt Lake), a 19-year-old who set up Onyewu's goal in the 90th minute, and midfielder Jose Torres, a 20-year-old who made his international debut in the 68th minute. Torres, who performs for Pachuca the Mexican First Division, is Mexican born. So wearing the red, white and blue for the U.S. side was significant because he could have picked the Americans' archrival, Mexico.
"For some of the guys who came on in the second half, there was a great opportunity there to play and gain valuable minutes and exposure," Howard said. "All these games count. once you get them under your belt, they can't take them away. Jozy, Jose -- all those guys did a real good job."